Australia Billabong Shares Up on Buyout Plan Offer by Paul Naude

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | November 19, 2012 1:21 PM EST

Shares of debt riddled Billabong International jumped 13 per cent to 84 cents per share in early trading on Monday after the Australian surfwear retailer announced that the head of its Americas unit had offered to help stage a buyout of the company.

Paul Naude, Billabong's president in the Americas and a member of the company's board, has stepped down from his position for the time being as he attempts to try and take control of the surf retailer.

The Australian surf wear retailer, however, clarified, that "Mr Naude's decision was not solicited by the board of Billabong," noting the director was acting independently on his own.

"Billabong had not sought the attempted buyout from Mr Naude, nor was there any agreement with any other member of the Billabong board or senior management... he was acting independently," the company said in a statement.

It added it has given Mr Naude, who happens to own 0.2 percent of Billabong according to Bloomberg data, six weeks to work out any potential takeover with financiers.

Mr Naude, who has been engaged in the surfing industry since 1973, was appointed in September 1998 as president of Billabong's American operations. He then formed Billabong USA as a wholly-owned activity in North America.

"Paul's generally viewed quite favorably by the market, which makes this an interesting trade," Nomura Holdings Inc. retail analyst Nick Berry told Bloomberg News. "If either a bid isn't forthcoming or it gets knocked back it's going to be very difficult for him to go back."

Billabong was the subject of takeover approaches by TPG and Bain Capital LLC, both US-based private equity firms. Both also backed out of the race, without providing details.

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