UPDATE 3-Billabong gets $556 mln bid but fears abound it may be pulled

Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:08am EST
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* Consortium bids A$1.10 a share; Billabong warns on profit

* Shares slide 13 pct on fears bid will be cut or withdrawn

* The offer is the 4th bid this year

* One earlier bid was rejected, two others were withdrawn

By Miranda Maxwell

MELBOURNE, Dec 19 (Reuters) - A fresh $556 million offer for Billabong International found little favour with investors as the stock dived 13 percent on concern the Australian surfwear firm's latest profit warning might lead the suitor to lower or even withdraw the bid.

Billabong has alienated many investors in a tumultuous year that has seen it first reject a A$3.30 bid by TPG Capital in February as too low, and then have subsequent offers of A$1.45 from TPG and Bain Capital withdrawn after due diligence.

Billabong said on Wednesday a consortium led by board director Paul Naude and New York-based private equity firm Sycamore Partners had offered A$1.10 a share. But the announcement coincided with the firm's third profit warning this year and appeared to break a confidentiality agreement, sparking speculation the group may backpeddle on its bid.

In a later statement, Billabong said the consortium's bid was "unchanged" apart from the removal of the condition of confidentiality.   Continued...