Australia's Billabong Near $300M Buyout Deal

After rejecting an $824 million go-private deal last year, struggling Australian surfwear company Billabong International announced on Tuesday it may sell itself to a group led by former CEO Paul Naude -- but for just $300 million.

The company said it has entered into a 10-day exclusivity period with the buyout group of Naude and New York-based private-equity firm Sycamore Partners so the suitors may examine its books.

Billabong cautioned that there is no guarantee the proposed deal will go forward and neither party is under any obligation to proceed.

The group’s non-binding bid values the Australian company at just 60 Australian cents a share, or about 63 U.S. cents, representing an 18% discount to their close at 73 cents on March 28 when trading was suspended.

The buyout bid also stands well below the $824 million takeover offer last year from private-equity firm TPG Capital.

Billabong’s market valuation stood at A$3.8 billion as recently as 2007, but it has been slammed by the global recession and the rising value of the Australian dollar. The company suffered a loss of A$536.6 million in the second half of 2012.

A takeover of Billabong would mark another retail splash by Sycamore Partners, which last month unveiled a $600 million buyout of teen retailer Hot Topic (NASDAQ:HOTT).