Billabong gets new chief and finance deal

Billabong team rider Joel Parkinson launching at Piha in 2006. Photo / Dean Purcell
Billabong team rider Joel Parkinson launching at Piha in 2006. Photo / Dean Purcell

Struggling surfwear company Billabong International has appointed a new chief executive and struck a long-term refinancing deal.

Billabong said today it had appointed Neil Fiske to the company's top job.

Fiske was most recently a senior retail adviser to Canadian private equity firm Onex and is a former chief executive at outdoors clothing and gear company Eddie Bauer.

Billabong said Fiske had a proven record of turning around companies that had been struggling.

"Mr Fiske is a proven and industry-respected executive who brings to Billabong a strong combination of world-class strategy and successful execution experience as a CEO (chief executive officer) in retail and the active outdoor category," Billabong said.

Billabong has also entered into agreements with affiliates of Centerbridge Partners and Oaktree Capital Management - together known as the C/O Consortium - to recapitalise the company.

Billabong said the long-term refinancing would allow the company to stabilise its business, address its cost structure and grow the business.

The agreements include a six-year loan of AUS$386 million (referred to as the new-term debt); a $135 million equity placement to the C/O Consortium; a $50 million rights issue available to shareholders other than the C/O Consortium; and 29.6 million options issued to the C/O Consortium exercisable at 50 cents per share.

The proceeds of the equity placement to the C/O Consortium and the rights issue to other shareholders will be used to repay up to $185 million of the new-term debt.

The agreements enable Billabong to repay an existing $315 million bridge loan facility from the Altamont Consortium, which was struck in July 2013.

Billabong said that the C/O Consortium initially will be allowed three representatives on the board of Billabong to reflect its significant investment in Billabong.

The number of C/O Consortium representatives will later be reduced to two as the Billabong board is made smaller.

Billabong chairman Ian Pollard said the refinancing agreement with C/O Consortium was superior to a prior refinancing proposal put by C/O Consortium and superior to a long-term term refinancing proposal from Altamont.

Billabong also on Thursday referred to an earlier request from US hedge fund Coastal Capital International requesting that the directors convene a special meeting of shareholders to consider a spill of Billabong's board.

Billabong said it was seeking to have the resolutions that are subject to the Coastal Capital request put to the 2013 annual general meeting in November rather than have a separate meeting.

Shares in Billabong were three cents higher at 48 cents at 1119 AEST.

- AAP

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