New York private equity firm Sycamore Partners and Paul Naude have proposed to buy Billabong International Ltd. (ASE: BBG) for about $300 million, far less than the $824 million takeover offer the company rejected last year from TPG Capital.
Once considered the Big Kahuna in the surfing retail world, the Queensland, Australia-based company, markets, distributes and sells apparel, accessories, eyewear, wetsuits and goods related to the sport.
In February, the company announced a half-year loss of $556.7 million. Billabong said the loss resulted from difficult trading conditions in Europe and other factors, including disappointing performance of the Nixon watch line. Billabong bought Nixon in 2006, and retained a 48.5 percent stake when it sold the rest of the company in 2012. The watches are advertised as “indestructible.”
Sycamore, Naude and Billabong have entered into a 10-day exclusivity period for the potential buyers to perform an earnings analysis. Naude is the president of the Americas operations at Billabong.
The proposal prices Billabong at A$0.60 per share (U.S. $0.62). The company’s shares were suspended from trading on April 2. Shares traded at a high of $3.03 in February 2012, around the time of TPG’s offer. Before the shares were suspended, they were trading at $0.73.
Gordon Merchant, Billabong’s founder and chief executive, has agreed to back the new offer. The company’s management team was switched up last year, with former Target managing director Launa Inman put in place as chief executive and managing director of Billabong.
Sycamore Partners specializes in consumer and retail investments. The firm’s investments include Talbots Inc., Mast Global Fashions and Pathlight Capital. The firm agreed to buy Hot Topic in March for $600 million.
A consortium comprised of Altamont Capital Partners and VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC) also came forward as a potential buyer for Billabong during the company’s sale evaluation process. The parties made a $556 million offer in January. TPG made an offer in February 2012, but withdrew it in October after Billabong said it wasn’t high enough.
Billabong announced on Jan. 14 that it would evaluate whether a sale could be completed.
For more on the outdoor-performance wear sector, see “Outdoor Performance Poised to Take Off.” For more on Billabong’s sale process, see “Billabong Perilously Close to a Wipeout,” by the Sydney Morning Herald.