Orange County Business Journal

Billabong Issues Trading Halt on Buyout Proposal

Kari Hamanaka Monday, December 17, 2012

The Australian parent of Irvine-based Billabong USA announced a trading halt late Sunday pending an announcement on a potential buyout bid for the company.

The halt is expected to be lifted either on Wednesday or when Billabong International Ltd. makes its announcement.

The trading halt follows news last month that Americas President Paul Naude was stepping aside to explore a possible leveraged buyout of the action sports apparel maker and retailer.

The Australian Financial Review reported that Naude plans to offer $555.6 million, which equates to about $1.16 per share. A Bloomberg report cited New York private equity firm Sycamore Partners as a backer of the reported proposal.

Billabong’s shares were up about 5% to $1.03 on the Australian Securities Exchange Sunday evening before the company announced the trading halt. Billabong had a market value of about $422 million.

Billabong has seen a number of takeover offers amid a rocky year that saw the replacement of its former chief executive and the sale of a portion of its Nixon Inc. accessories brand with the proceeds of that sale used to help pay down the company’s debt.

Texas-based TPG Capital pulled its offer of $713.7 million for Billabong in October, after making two higher bids for the company earlier in the year.

A second bidder, reportedly Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital LLC, matched TPG’s third offer but pulled its bid in September.