Orange County Business Journal

Billabong Parent Sells Half of Nixon; Plans to Cut Stores, Employees

Kari Hamanaka Thursday, February 16, 2012

The parent of Irvine-based Billabong USA announced the sale of nearly half its Nixon accessories business to a private equity firm as part of a series of moves to reduce the company’s debt and other expenses.

Encinitas-based Nixon sells watches, wallets, purses and other accessories. The sale valued the company at $464 million.

New York-based Trilantic Capital Management LLC and Billabong International Ltd. of Australia will each hold a 48.5% stake in Nixon under the new joint venture agreement. The remainder of the company will go to management.

Billabong makes clothes and accessories under brands such as Element, Von Zipper and RVCA.

The company has struggled on European debt woes. Discounting during the recent holiday season and higher cotton prices have also weighed heavily on Billabong.

Billabong plans to use the $285 million net proceeds from the Nixon sale to pay down debt, according to a statement from the company.

Billabong paid $131 million for the company in 2006. That purchase price includes a recent deferred payment for Nixon.

Nixon co-founder Andy Laats will remain chief executive. Chad DiNenna, the company’s other founder, will continue to serve as executive vice president of marketing.

The deal is expected to close in 90 days.

Billabong’s plan to reduce its debt also include closing as many as 150 underperforming stores, including some with leases set to expire June 30. It is unclear if any stores in the U.S. will be affected.

The goal is to cut rent expenses by up to $30 million, the company said.

Billabong also plans to trim another $30 million on marketing and logistics, among other areas.

About 400 jobs are expected to be lost as a result of the cost-cutting measures.

Billabong International reported revenue up 6.3% for the six months through December to $847.2 million in constant currency.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were down 18.3% for the same period to $74.1 million.