Orange County Business Journal

Billabong Parent Looks to Raise $228.6M, Reduce Debt

Kari Hamanaka Thursday, June 21, 2012

Business has continued to be challenging for the parent of Irvine-based Billabong USA, with the Australian company now looking to reduce its debt by raising $228.6 million through a sale of new shares of the action-sports apparel company.

Billabong International Ltd. said it will offer existing shareholders 221 million shares priced at $1.03. The per-share price represents a 44% discount from the $1.86 level just before trading halted for the announcement of the pending stock sale. The move would nearly double the number of shares outstanding.

The plan could help Billabong International cut its debt by about two-thirds, to $101.6 million.

Billabong founder Gordon Merchant will buy $30 million worth of new shares, according to the company.

Billabong lowered earlier guidance of $159 million in expected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the 12 months through June. EBITDA is now expected to come in between $131.7 million and $136.7 million.

The news is the first major update from Billabong International since Launa Inman’s appointment to chief executive, and OC executive Paul Naude’s appointment as president of the company’s Americas division in May.

Business has not improved since the company gave its half-year results in February. Billabong’s European, Australian and Canadian business continues to see weak sales and heavy discounts in addition to requests from retailers to delay shipments.

Billabong said it’s U.S. business was in line with expectations with Costa Mesa-based RVCA Clothing a bright spot for the company.

The update comes as Billabong is in the process of reducing its costs and closing stores. It’s shuttered 45 stores so far, with a total of 140 expected to be closed by the end of next June.

Billabong said it plans to reveal details of a three-year turnaround strategy in August.

The company also announced changes to its board of directors, with Chairman Ted Kunkel set to retire between October and February of next year.

Audit Committee Chair Allan McDonald also announced his retirement, effective in October.

Billabong refused an offer to sell the company to Texas-based TPG Capital LP earlier this year. It earlier got $285 million from the sale of a 48.5% stake in Encinitas-based Nixon Inc. to New York private equity firm Trilantic Capital Management.