Billabong extends trading halt as suitors hold back

Billabong has called an indefinite trading suspension as negotiations with two potential suitors drag on.

Billabong has called an indefinite trading suspension as negotiations with two potential suitors drag on.

The company made the announcement to the market on Thursday before a trading halt on its shares was due to be lifted.

It has received six takeover offers since early last year but none has succeeded.

Billabong said the suspension would remain in place until "the company is able to make an announcement in relation to such negotiations".

Speculation is mounting that the two suitors - both backed by private equity - have dropped their takeover offer as low as 80¢ a share, down from an initial proposal priced at $1.10.

One suitor is Sycamore Partners and Paul Naude, the other Altamont Capital and VF Corp, the US retailer behind brands such as Timberland, North Face and Vans. VF Corp has said its only interest is in the Billabong brand. Altamont is interested in acquiring the rest of the business, which includes the vast retail network.

Billabong set a deadline for the suitors before Easter. It called a trading halt on Tuesday when a resolution could not be reached.

Credit Suisse recently reassessed the company on the basis that bids failed to emerge, giving it a weighted valuation of 59¢ a share.

UBS retail analyst Ben Gilbert said the most likely outcome was a 91¢-a-share offer, based on the original eight-times earnings before interest and tax multiple before the most recent downgrade.

Without a bid, Billabong might need a $100 million capital raising to fix the balance sheet, he said.

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