Gordon Merchant, founder and biggest shareholder of troubled surfwear retailer Billabong International, announced on Tuesday it is open yet again to accepting takeover bids for the company. Billabong shares dived 47.5 per cent into a massive whirlpool after coming out of a trading halt since Thursday.
Shares of beleaguered Australian retailer Billabong International rode on a high early Monday morning before being placed on a trading halt on rumors of a $526.8 million takeover bid by a consortium led by former director Paul Naude.
Shares of the Australian surf, skate and skiwear retailer dropped to a record low, closing at 87 cents on Monday, 47.5 per cent below Wednesday's closing price of $1.83 at 96 cents. This, after the company announced last week an earnings downgrade and the launch of a $225-million capital raising effort.
Monday's massive fall effectively wiped out more than $200 million in shareholder value.
On Tuesday, Merchant lamented the turn of events that happened to Billabong International.
Mr Merchant, along with fellow director and shareholder Colette Paull, rejected in February a A$3.30 per share offer from private equity firm TPG Capital, saying an offer below A$4 a share was too much of a discount for the interested bidder.
"I thought it was the right decision at the time."
"I don't have any set figure in my head, but I would consider (a lower offer than A$4 a share)," he said.
Last week, Billabong International surprised investors when it announced it needs to raise $225 million in fresh equity at $1.02 a share in order to help eradicate a $325 million debt pile.
At the present scenario, Billabong International is very much a welcome treat, and could warrant takeover bids from the previous bidders.
"I think they (TPG Capital) would be very tempted to come back and do another bid," analyst Tim Jones from Morningstar was quoted as saying by Sky News Australia.
"A number of groups would be interested in purchasing it - private equity or even trade buyers as well as other international brand companies, particularly in the US," Jones added.
Billabong International, in the course of events, would be forced to close more than 140 of its 600 stores, Sky News Australia reported.
Five years ago, the group's shares traded at more than $18 per share.
Investors are also unlikely to put their money into the Australian surf, skate and skiwear retailer since top management has yet to issue a clear strategy that will keep the business afloat.
"There wasn't a very clear direction about what she (new Billabong International chief Launa Inman) was going to do to take the business forward, so there's a lot of uncertainty," Jones said.
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