Australia's Billabong confirms takeover offer

Australia's Billabong confirms takeover offer

SYDNEY - Struggling Australian surf and sportswear company Billabong on Wednesday confirmed it was considering a takeover offer from a former executive valued at US$555.2 million (S$675.8 million)

A consortium led by Paul Naude, who last month stepped aside as director and president of Billabong's US business, is offering Aus$1.10 (S$1.41) per share.

Billabong downgraded its full-year earnings guidance and said it was considering the bid, which is conditional on due diligence.

"The board supports the transformation strategy (of the company), which has already delivered some early improvements in operations and in managing costs," chairman Ian Pollard said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

"However, it will continue to assess the current indicative, non-binding and conditional proposal as well as other matters that may be outside of its control as it seeks to restore the fortunes of the company."

Shares in Billabong remained in a trading halt Wednesday at 98 cents. The stock slumped in October after private equity firm TPG withdrew from a Aus$1.45 takeover offer.

Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by defeated US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, 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.

In earnings guidance Wednesday, Billabong said weak trading conditions in its Americas division and weaker-than-expected sales in Europe meant it had revised forecasts for the year to June 30, 2013.

It now anticipates earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of Aus$56 million-Aus$63 million, down from its previous expectations of Aus$100 million-Aus$110 million.

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