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Billabong Buying Rvca; Faces Rival Bid for Canadian Retailer

Irvine-based clothing maker Billabong USA is acquiring Costa Mesa’s Rvca Clothing for undisclosed terms.

The deal, rumored in recent months, is estimated at $26 million, according to analysts who follow Billabong’s publicly traded parent company, Australia’s Billabong International Ltd.

The move pairs Billabong, one of the largest makers of clothes inspired by surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding, with one of the industry’s buzz brands.

Rvca is part of a new breed of clothing makers that draw inspiration from action sports as well as fashion, art and music.

The company was started in 2001 by Conan Hayes, a professional surfer, and Pat M. Tenore. They started the company from Tenore’s Costa Mesa garage.

Hayes eventually turned down a professional surfing contract to work on Rvca.

A tie-up with Billabong had been an open secret in the industry for months, with trade publication Transworld Business and others touching on the speculation.

The acquisition is the latest in a series by Billabong, the second largest action sports clothing maker after Huntington Beach-based Quiksilver Inc.

Last month, Billabong offered to buy Canadian retailer West 49 Inc. for $78 million and now faces a bidding war from Zumiez Inc., based near Seattle.

West 49, which runs 138 mall stores selling clothes inspired by snowboarding and skateboarding, said it has received an offer topping Billabong’s from Zumiez.

The terms of the Zumiez offer weren’t disclosed.

Billabong now has five days to counter offer.

Buying West 49 would more than double Billabong’s North American stores to 230.

In all, Billabong has more than 300 stores in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

The company makes clothes and other products under the Billabong, Element and Von Zipper brands, among others.

Billabong also has become a sizable retailer with stores under its own name as well as Beach Works and Honolua Surf Co.

Billabong USA makes up about 45% of its parent company’s $1.4 billion in yearly revenue.

In May, Billabong bought Torrance-based Becker Surf & Sport, which runs four Orange County stores.

In November, Billabong bought San Clemente’s Swell.com, an online clothes seller.

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