Bidder will break Billabong to build back up
Struggling surfwear group Billabong faces a break-up if the latest suitor successfully acquires the business.
VF Corp, the retailer behind other well-known brands such as Timberland, The North Face and Vans, said in a statement today that its only interest was in the Billabong brand itself. Its private equity partner, Altamont Capital Partners, is interested in the rest of the business which includes the vast retail network which proved to be the company’s undoing.
‘‘This interest is consistent with VF’s stated intent to pursue acquisitions, particularly in the Action Sports category, to continue to build shareholder value,’’ VF said in a statement.
‘‘Altamont’s interest lies in acquiring Billabong’s other brands and related assets, and is predicated on the firm’s mandate to invest in situations where it can provide strategic and operational support to build business success stories.’’
VF said the $1.10 per share proposal did not constitute a binding offer for Billabong nor did it impose any obligation on VF or Altamont to make an offer for Billabong.
Analysts have said that the VF/Altamont bid has a lot of credibility.
‘‘We have long thought the Billabong brands would be a sensible fit for VF Corp given its attraction to global brands which are not broken but have potential to improve and its other investments in the action sports space (Vans and Reef),’’ said Deutsche Bank’s Michael Simotas.
‘‘When compared to other transactions in the action sports space and considering brand equity alone, Billabong appears to offer a lot to an experienced brand manager with a track record of successfully extracting maximum value from global brands.’’
The company's shares rose as much as 14.2 per cent after emerging from a trading halt late this morning. They were recently up 12.4 per cent, at 95 cents.
‘‘We think this is a positive development for BBG, now with two credible private equity and industry bidders,’’ said JP Morgan retail analyst Shaun Cousins.
The broker upgraded its recommendation on the stock to neutral on the grounds that a successful bid is now more likely but said ‘‘we think it is unlikely to occur at $1.10 per share given due diligence and earnings uncertainty risk, while the possibility no bid occurs remains.’’