Orange County Business Journal

Billabong Confirms Naude Bid

Kari Hamanaka Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The parent of Irvine-based Billabong USA confirmed that its locally-based executive has put in an offer to purchase the company.

Australia-based Billabong International Ltd. said Tuesday that it received a bid from its Americas President Paul Naude on Friday.

The company announced a trading halt Sunday evening pending an announcement on a proposed buyout offer. Billabong International, which is traded on the Australian Securities Exchange, had a recent market value of $400 million.

The buyout offer of $550.8 million for all Billabong shares, which equates to $1.15 per share, is being submitted by a Naude-led group that also includes New York private equity firm Sycamore Partners Management as equity investor and Bank of America Merrill Lynch as “lead debt financier,” according to Billabong International.

Naude stepped aside from his president and board director duties last month to explore a possible purchase of Billabong.

Due diligence is expected to take four to six weeks after which the company said it would then consider the proposal.

The proposal follows buyout bids made earlier in the year for Billabong, the most recent of which came from Texas-based TPG Capital for $713.7 million. TPG, which had submitted two higher bids earlier in the year for the company, pulled its third offer in October.

A second bidder, which was reportedly Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital LLC, matched TPG’s $713.7 million offer, but pulled its bid in September.

“Billabong has undergone a lengthy period of extraordinary corporate activity and while only recently appointed chairman, I understand the concerns of shareholders,” said Billabong International Chair Ian Pollard in a statement. “Over much of the past three years it has been seeking to manage volatile and at times unprecedented trading conditions in all markets and has been the subject of several approaches, including Mr Naude’s.”

Pollard went on to say that the company continues to focus on the turnaround strategy unveiled by Chief Executive Launa Inman in August.

Billabong also updated its guidance for the 12 months ending in June with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in the range of $89.3 million to $96.6 million, excluding the impacts of currency and charges related to its restructuring and turnaround plan among other items.

This is lowered from earlier EBITDA guidance of $103 million to $113.3 million

Billabong International cited a number of factors for the adjusted guidance, including weak sales for its West 49 retail chain in Canada and low wholesale orders for its Dakine and Element brands in the U.S. The company also noted a challenging business in South America and Europe.