September 19, 2013 / 1:14 AM / 5 years ago

Billabong signs refinancing deal; appoints new chief executive

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s Billabong International Ltd BBG.AX accepted a sweetened refinancing proposal from U.S. hedge ‘funds Oaktree Capital Management OAKCP.UL and Centerbridge Partners, and appointed an industry veteran as its new chief executive.

A Billabong employee opens the company store in central Sydney August 27, 2012. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

The moves could help the surfwear company turn around its performance, which has been hit by slumping sales of its key brands and a costly expansion strategy since it knocked back a A$850 million ($794.71 million) private equity bid last year.

Oaktree and Centerbridge have been vying with U.S. private equity firm Altamont Capital Partners to refinance the business, with Billabong previously accepting a proposal from Altamont.

Neil Fiske, the company’s new chief executive sourced by Centerbridge and Oaktree, was previously a senior adviser on retail at Canadian private equity firm Onex Corp OCX.TO, and chief executive of outdoors clothing and accessories brand Eddie Bauer GOLGCU.UL.

Centerbridge and Oaktree offered a raft of sweeteners to the Billabong board to get the deal over the line, including reducing the price Billabong’s shareholders will be offered shares in a rights issue to A$0.28 a share from A$0.30.

Billabong’s shares rose 7.8 percent to A$0.49 after the announcement, compared with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index which was up 1.2 percent.

($1 = 1.0696 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Jackie Range; Editing by Stephen Coates

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