Orange County Business Journal

Billabong Considers Sale to Private Equity Firm

Kari Hamanaka Monday, February 20, 2012

A sale of Irvine-based Billabong USA’s Australian parent is still on the table after a private equity firm submitted a revised bid to buy the action sports apparel company.

Billabong said today it is considering an offer from Texas-based TPG Capital LP to sell the company for $3 a share, or $825.3 million.

Billabong makes and sells clothes, shoes and accessories under several brands including its namesake label along with Element, RVCA, Von Zipper and Honolua among others. The company also has a retail business that includes 677 company-owned stores globally.

TPG Capital submitted an offer to buy Billabong last week for the same price on the condition that the company would not sell any of its brands.

The revised bid from TPG does not affect Billabong’s pending sale of a 48.5% stake in Encinitas-based Nixon Inc., which was announced late last week. The sale to New York-based private equity firm Trilantic Capital Management LLC values Nixon at about $464 million.

Billabong said it plans to use the $285 million net proceeds from the Nixon sale to help pay down some of its debt.

The accessories company had about $125 million in sales last year, according to a conference call Billabong executives had with analysts last week.

Nixon was one of the company’s big performers for the six-month period ending in December with double-digit sales growth. RVCA, Sector 9 and Kustom were the only other brands to see double-digit gains during the same period.

European debt woes and a tough retail environment have challenged the company’s wholesale and retail businesses.

Billabong made a push into retail with a number of acquisitions in recent years. Its most recent was the $79 million buy of Canada’s West 49 mall chain in 2010.

Billabong is now looking to reduce its retail holdings with plans to close as many as 150 underperforming stores as part of a strategy to cut costs.