Surfwear company Billabong is "again under threat of takeover," after U.S. Divisional Chief Paul Naude stepped down temporarily while he "seeks financial backers for a leveraged buyout," according to Blair Speedy of THE AUSTRALIAN. Naude is a director on the Billabong board as well as president of its Americas division. Billabong said in an announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange that Naude has stepped aside from both positions for six weeks to "investigate the possibility of putting forward a proposal for a leveraged buyout of the company." The announcement read, "Mr. Naude has advised that he is seeking to hold discussions with potential financiers, both debt and equity, to gain their support for a potential change of control transaction of Billabong." The news sent Billabong shares up 7.5c, or 10.1%, to 81.5c Monday, their biggest one-day gain in almost four months (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/20).
ACTING ALONE: In Sydney, Glenda Kwek reported Billabong said that Naude was "acting independently and his decision was not solicited by its board, or by an agreement with a board member or a senior member of the management team." Financial services group Nomura retail analyst Nick Berry said, ‘‘Paul’s generally viewed quite favorably by the market, which makes this an interesting trade. If either a bid isn’t forthcoming or it gets knocked back it’s going to be very difficult for him to go back.’’ Stock broker BBY Ltd. Institutional Dealer Anson Rosewall said that while Naude’s bid was "something to pay attention to, it would be dependent on whether he can get financing." Rosewall: "At this point, we haven’t heard any details on pricing" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/19).