AUS: Quicksilver completes $198m acquisition of Billabong

Billabong and Quicksilver embarked on ambitious expansion programmes two decades ago, but were hobbled by debt built up to fund their ambitions.
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Australian surfwear brand Quicksilver has completed a $198m acquisition of the rival Billabong brand.

Billabong agreed to a buyout from its top shareholder, the US private equity group Oaktree Capital Management, which also owns Quicksilver’s parent company, Boardriders.

Oaktree is betting on cost savings and a pick-up in consumer sentiment, allowing it to bring brands such as RVCA, Element and Von Zipper into a portfolio that already includes Quicksilver, Roxy and DC Shoes.

Billabong and Quicksilver embarked on ambitious expansion programmes two decades ago, but were hobbled by debt built up to fund their ambitions.

Billabong, which sponsors World Surf League events such as the Pro Tahiti competition, was rescued by Oaktree in 2013 with a refinancing deal, but the turnaround hit headwinds.

The Guardian reports that the company posted a $77.1m post tax loss last year in the face of stagnant wage growth and tough competition from fast-fashion retailers.

Billabong’s online rival SurfStitch slipped into administration in April last year as it warned of difficult trading conditions in its key markets, including the UK. Quicksilver filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015 and was taken off the stockmarket by Oaktree in 2016.

Boardriders, which is roughly 85 per cent controlled by Oaktree, said its purchase would complement existing brands, allow for deeper partnerships with suppliers and would generate back office savings.

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