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Billabong statement confusing and vague

Billabong statement confusing and vague

Billabong's announcement it is no longer a takeover target but instead a company looking to refinance debt is both vague and confusing, an analyst says.

Billabong shares have been pummelled after the retailer said it was no longer in takeover talks.

Instead, the troubled surfwear maker is in discussions with two US-based private equity firms to refinance its debt and asset sales.

On top of that, the company also lowered earnings guidance for 2013 for the third time in six months.

The announcement prompted investors to head for the exits, with Billabong tumbling 34.62 per cent, or 15.75 cents to be at 29.75 cents by 1300 AEST.

Wilson HTM investment manager Peter Esho said Tuesday's statement showed the Billabong board appeared to have completely given up the prospect of a full takeover.

"The market was looking for some form of clarity, something of substance," Mr Esho said.

"I think this has done the complete opposite.

"There's just more vagueness and more confusion."

Billabong said in a statement takeover talks with two US-based consortiums - one including Sycamore Partners and the other including Altamont Capital Partners - had ended.

Instead, Billabong was in discussions with Sycamore and Altamont on "alternative refinancing and asset sale transactions".

The funds from these potential deals would be used to repay existing debt in full.

"The refinancing is intended to provide the company with a comprehensive solution and an appropriate capital structure, allowing it to continue its reform agenda," Billabong chairman Ian Pollard said.

"It's our intention to conclude these discussions as soon as practically possible while aggressively reducing costs across all our global operations."

The company knocked back a $850 million takeover bid by private equity firm TPG Capital in February 2012.

Other proposals, including bid from one of its US-based executives Paul Naude, have also come to nothing.

Billabong said its Australasian stores were trading below expectations, with sales so far in 2013 down 5.4 per cent compared with a year ago, while conditions in Europe were still weak.

Meanwhile, conditions in the Americas were "slightly ahead of plan for the half".

Mr Esho said the trading update was disappointing.

"Many, many retailers in the US are reporting very healthy improvement and these guys are just reporting sales slightly ahead of plan," Mr Esho said.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were expected to come in a range between $67 million and $74 million.

The updated guidance was below the $74 million to $85 million range announced in February and the third time since December Billabong has lowered earnings estimates.

Billabong reported a $537 million first half loss.

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Tags M&AsBillabong businesscompany restructuring

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