Orange County Business Journal

New Bidder Emerges for Billabong

Kari Hamanaka Thursday, September 6, 2012

The parent of Irvine-based Billabong USA has drawn a second offer for the action sports apparel and retail company on Wednesday.

The unidentified bidder proposed $708 million, or $1.48 per share, for Australia-based Billabong International Ltd.

Billabong International makes clothing, shoes and accessories under brands such as Billabong, RVCA, Element and VonZipper. It also operates more than 600 stores internationally as of the end of June.

Texas-based private equity firm TPG Capital LP began due diligence on Billabong earlier this summer after also offering $1.48 per share for Billabong in July.

The TPG offer is its third for Billabong, and comes in lower than two previous bids of $825.3 million and $909.2 million made earlier this year.

Billabong said it had signed a confidentiality agreement with this latest bidder and also is allowing the entity to conduct due diligence on the company.

Billabong reiterated in a statement Wednesday that neither the latest proposal nor the TPG offer reflect “the fundamental value of Billabong.”

The announcement follows an August report in The Australian newspaper raising speculation of more than one private equity suitor for Billabong. Among those were Bain Capital LLC of Boston and New York-based Rhone Capital LLC, which has an 18.8% stake in Huntington Beach-based action sports clothing and retail company Quiksilver Inc.

Billabong has seen a number of changes in its business since the start of the year, including the appointment of Chief Executive Launa Inman, who replaced former Chief Executive Derek O’Neill in May. Paul Naude, president of Billabong USA, became the company’s Americas president the same month.

Inman detailed a turnaround strategy for Billabong's business in August.

The four-year plan aims to pare back the company’s styles and suppliers in an attempt to “simplify” the business and will also shutter 140 stores by next June. The strategy also identified Element, RVCA and Dakine as brands with potential to grow.