RPT-UPDATE 1-Australian regulator declines to delay Billabong deal

Sun Jul 21, 2013 5:44pm EDT

SYDNEY, July 19 (Reuters) - Australia's takeover regulator declined a request from Oaktree Capital Management and Centerbridge Partners to delay a $359 million refinancing deal surfwear for company Billabong International Ltd on anti-trust concerns.

The two U.S. hedge funds, whose own refinancing proposals were rebuffed by Billabong, had asked the Takeovers Panel to intervene in the deal with Altamont Capital Partners because some elements, including a hefty break fee, were "anti-competitive and coercive".

The panel declined to stop the sale but would still investigate the deal, a spokesman said.

Billabong had earlier said it disagreed with the basis for the Oaktree and Centrebridge request.

The two funds had asked the panel to delay the drawdown of a $294 million bridge facility and the sale of Billabong's DaKine brand to Altamont, both expected to occur early next week, pending the results of an investigation.

Billabong announced a refinancing deal with Altamont on Tuesday, unveiling plans to issue Altamont share options for 15 percent of the company along with the sale of the DaKine business.

The company said Thursday it had received a proposal from the two hedge funds, which recently bought some of Billabong's debt from senior lenders, after it had entered into the binding agreement with Altamont.

Plagued with high debt from an ill-timed expansion and struggling as its brands fell out of favor, Billabong has issued a series of profit warnings since rejecting a A$850 million bid from private equity firm TPG Capital Management in February 2012.

Billabong's shares ended up 9.6 percent at A$0.40 on Friday, from a high of A$13.56 six years ago.

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