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Billabong Halts Stock on Possible Bid as Naude Eyes Offer

Billabong International Ltd. halted its shares from trade before a potential takeover announcement, after the Australian Financial Review reported that director Paul Naude offered A$1.10 a share for the company.

The stock was halted pending a statement on “a possible change of control proposal,” Gold Coast, Australia-based Billabong said in a filing today. Naude, who stepped aside as a director and executive of Billabong on Nov. 19 to pursue a leveraged buyout, made an offer at the weekend, the Review reported today, without saying where it got the information.

Billabong has become a target after selling new stock at a discount to repay debt, closing stores, firing workers and posting a record loss amid a consumer slump. TPG International LLC withdrew a A$694 million proposal in October, its second since January, and a company which Billabong didn’t identify walked away from a bid in September. The suitor was Bain Capital LLC, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

“I can’t confirm or deny anything,” Craig White, Billabong’s chief financial officer, said by phone before the trading halt announcement.

Billabong shares climbed 4.8 percent to 98 Australian cents before the halt, headed for the highest closing level in two months. An offer at A$1.10 a share, 18 percent more than its last closing price on Dec. 14, would value the company at A$527 million ($556 million).

The stock has lost more than 90 percent of its value since peaking above A$14 in May 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Founder and largest shareholder Gordon Merchant said via his lawyer, Bruce Cowley of Minter Ellison, that he would reject an offer from TPG even if it rose to as much as A$4 per share, according to a letter attached to a regulatory statement in February.

Naude owns about 0.2 percent of Billabong, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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