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Australia Rejects Billabong Challenge

  • Oaktree, Centerbridge raise antitrust concerns
  • Government won’t stop deal, will review it
  • Billabong struggling with brands out of favor

The two U.S. fund managers, whose own refinancing proposals were rebuffed by Billabong, had asked the Takeovers Panel to intervene in the deal with Altamont Capital Partners because some elements, including a hefty break fee, were “anti-competitive and coercive.” The panel declined to stop the sale but would still investigate the deal, a spokesman said.

Billabong had earlier said it disagreed with the basis for the Oaktree and Centrebridge request.

The two firms had asked the panel to delay the drawdown of a $294 million bridge facility and the sale of Billabong’s DaKine brand to Altamont Apparel, both expected to occur in late July, pending the results of an investigation.

Billabong announced a refinancing deal with Altamont on July 16, unveiling plans to issue Altamont share options for 15 percent of the company along with the sale of the DaKine business.

The company said two days later it had received a proposal from the two firms, both of which are investors in distressed assets, which recently bought some of Billabong’s debt from senior lenders, after it had entered into the binding agreement with Altamont. Plagued with high debt from an ill-timed expansion and struggling as its brands fell out of favor, Billabong has issued a series of profit warnings since rejecting a A$850 million bid from private equity firm TPG Capital in February 2012.