Australia's Billabong says consortium cuts takeover bid to $300 mln

SYDNEY, April 9 Tue Apr 9, 2013 2:42am EDT

SYDNEY, April 9 (Reuters) - Australia's Billabong International Ltd said on Tuesday a consortium led by its former U.S. boss, Paul Naude, had cut its takeover bid for the struggling surf wear company by 45 percent to $300 million.

Billabong said it would enter a 10-day exclusivity period with Naude and Sycamore Partners, but cautioned the A$0.60 per share deal was not guaranteed. Major owners Gordon Merchant and Collette Paull confirmed that they will accept the offer in the absence of any superior proposal, the company said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

Naude and Sycamore Partners beat out a rival bid from a consortium comprised of private equity firm Altamont Capital Partners and U.S. clothing group VF Corp.

Both bidders had reduced their offers from indicative matching prices of A$1.10 a share, which had valued the company at A$527 million ($549 million).

Billabong shares last closed on Thursday at A$0.73. The stock, which has lost around two-thirds of its value in the past year, sank to an all-time low of A$0.63 last month.

The VF Corp and Naude offers are the fourth and fifth takeover approaches for the Australian company since February 2012.

Billabong had a tumultuous 2012, alienating investors after rejecting a A$3.30 per share bid by TPG Capital that February as too low. Subsequent offers of A$1.45 from TPG and Bain Capital were withdrawn after due diligence.

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