Australia's Billabong in trading halt amid takeover reports
Trading on shares in Australian surf and sportswear company Billabong
was halted Monday after reports that a former director was leading a
takeover bid valued at $555.2 million.
Paul Naude, who last month stepped aside as director and president of
Billabong's US business to prepare a buy-out bid, is believed to have
offered Aus$1.10 ($1.16) per share, the Australian Financial Review
said. The offer from a consortium led by Naude -- and which includes a
private equity firm -- values the company at Aus$526.8 million ($555.2
million) and is conditional on due diligence, Dow Jones said, without
naming its source.
Billabong International Limited would not comment. "The company is in
a trading halt and will make an announcement at the appropriate time," a
spokesman told AFP.
In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, Billabong said
the trading halt was requested "pending an announcement by the Company
of a possible change of control proposal".
Shares in the ailing sportswear firm were at 98 cents. Billabong
shares slumped in October after private equity firm TPG withdrew from
its Aus$1.45 takeover offer. Bain Capital, the private equity firm
founded by US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, had also
pulled out of a bid during the due diligence phase. In February,
Billabong's largest shareholder and founder Gordon Merchant and fellow
investor Colette Paul rejected a separate takeover bid from TPG at
Aus$3.30 a share.
Naude stood aside last month, saying he was preparing a proposal for
a leveraged buyout. His move was independent of Billabong, which said at
the time his move was not solicited.
The iconic surfwear retailer reported an Aus$275.6 million net loss
for the year in August, as it took on costs associated with a
restructure, reversing the previous year's Aus$119.1 million net profit.