Orange County Business Journal

Billabong Sale Still Possible Despite Trading Halt

Kari Hamanaka Thursday, March 21, 2013

The parent of Irvine-based Billabong USA confirmed two bidders are still eyeing the action sports apparel and accessories company, which requested a halt in trading of its shares Wednesday evening.

Australia-based Billabong International Ltd. is traded on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Shares of the action sports apparel and accessories company were down about 14% Wednesday to a market value of $342.8 million. More than 9 million shares in the company traded hands on the day, well above its typical volume.

Billabong International requested the halt "pending the release of an announcement by the company."

It later released an additional statement saying it was unaware of the reasons for the high trading volume and pointed to a report from The Australian Financial Review, which may have caused the spike in activity.

The article mentioned a Credit Suisse analyst report that cited the possibility of the company’s equity value falling to zero if the bids are pulled and Billabong’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation falling from $74 million this year to $50 million by 2015.

Billabong, which posted a $536.6 million losses for the second half of 2012, has set a target for EBITDA of $210 million by 2016.

The announcements come as a reported March 28 deadline looms for two groups that have put in conditional bids of $550.8 million for Billabong. Both bidders have been conducting due diligence in recent weeks.

One of the groups is led by Billabong Americas President Paul Naude and New York-based private equity firm Sycamore Partners.

The other consists of Palo Alto private equity firm Altamont Capital Partners and Greensboro, N.C.-based VF Corp., parent of Cypress skate company Vans Inc.

D. Scott Olivet, a former chief executive of Foothill Ranch-based Oakley Inc., is rumored to be working with Altamont on its proposal. Reports have said if the Altamont/VF proposal is accepted, Olivet would run the non-Billabong brands.