Orange County Business Journal

France's PPR Buying Volcom for $608M

Michael Lyster Monday, May 2, 2011

The Paris-based parent of Gucci, Puma and other brands has made a $608 million bid for Costa Mesa-based apparel maker Volcom Inc.

The offer from PPR SA values Volcom at 24% higher than the company’s shares closed at on Friday and is about 40% higher than Volcom’s average price for the past three months.

Directors at Volcom back the offer and recommend shareholders accept it, according to PPR.

Volcom makes clothes inspired by surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, music and art. It would become part of PPR’s sports and lifestyle unit, dominated by Puma.

PPR, best known for luxury goods, is looking to build its sports and lifestyle unit into a “second pillar” for the company.

“Volcom is arguably one of the most desirable global action sports brands,” PPR Chief Executive François-Henri Pinault said in a statement.

The "acquisition makes operational sense for the Volcom brand, as PPR has the capital and resources available to internationally develop and broaden the brand," Mitch Kummetz of Milwaukee-based investment bank Robert W. Baird & Co. in a note to clients.

The deal comes a few months after PPR was a rumored suitor for Huntington Beach-based Quiksilver Inc., the top maker of action sports clothes.

PPR SA reportedly contacted Quiksilver and major shareholder Rhone Group LLC of New York about a possible acquisition in December.

PPR also was a rumored potential suitor of Quiksilver during the height of the company’s financial struggles in 2009.

Volcom is projected to see 2011 revenue of $370 million, according to Wall Street analysts.

In February, Volcom warned of a projected profit and revenue shortfall for the first quarter. Results are due Tuesday.

Volcom, which makes clothes inspired by surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, music and art, said it expects a first-quarter profit of $3.9 million to $4.7 million, which would be up 7% to 11% from a year earlier.

Analysts on average had been expecting a first-quarter profit of $7.8 million.

The company forecast revenue to come in at $83 million to $86 million for the quarter, which is lower than the $88.9 million Wall Street had been expecting.

Chief Executive Richard “Wooly” Woolcott and friend Tucker Hall started Volcom in Woolcott’s Newport Beach bedroom in 1991.

The company fared better than others during the recent downturn, remaining a sought-after brand even as street fashion and urban trends gained favor.

Woolcott stands to be one of the big winners in the buyout. His shares 2.5 million shares in the company are valued at about $60 million in the deal.

His father, René Woolcott, a former Volcom chairman and key adviser to his son, has a stake valued at about $25 million.

The Woolcotts have agreed to the buyout, according to PPR.

Other big holders include a family trust controlled by Stephanie and Daniel Kwock—president of the entertainment unit at Quiksilver, where Woolcott worked before starting Volcom—BlackRock Inc. and TCW Group Inc.

The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter.