Orange County Business Journal

Billabong’s U.S. Boss Eyes Parent Company Buyout

Kari Hamanaka Monday, November 19, 2012

Paul Naude, Australia-based Billabong International Ltd.’s Americas president, is looking into purchasing the action-sports apparel company.

Naude is talking with debt and equity financiers about a potential leveraged buyout of Billabong International, officials said Sunday. He will step away from activities as Americas president and board member for six weeks while pursuing the matter.

Naude is based at the Irvine headquarters of Billabong USA. He was appointed president of the Americas region in May.

Billabong shares—which trade on the Australian Securities Exchange but not in the U.S.—closed up about 10% there Monday for a market value of $333 million.

Peter Bryant, chief financial officer of the Americas, will handle Naude's general business responsibilities along with the wholesale business. Colin Haggerty, retail executive for the Billabong Group, will handle the retail business.

During the six-week period, which could be extended with board approval, Naude is barred from speaking with the private equity firms that recently pulled bids to acquire Billabong. He is also prohibited from providing confidential company information to potential financiers.

Naude is credited with building Billabong’s U.S. business after he was named its president in 1998 and established Billabong USA.

Texas-based TPG Capital LP pulled its $713.7 million offer for Billabong in October following a period of due diligence on the company. Billabong had said before TPG withdrew its bid that the private equity firm had “expressed concerns in relation to some issues,” but did not elaborate.

A second bidder pulled its matching bid out a month earlier. Reports had speculated the second offer came from Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital LLC.

Billabong makes clothes, shoes and accessories under its namesake label, in addition to many local brands including RVCA, Element, Honolua and Von Zipper.