Surfwear giant Billabong is walking away from a $325 million refinancing deal from Altamont Capital, instead accepting a rival bid from Centerbridge Partners and Oaktree Capital Management. The new arrangement will see Billabong repay a $315 million bridge loan facility to Altamont along with a $6 million break fee. The Centerbridge Oaktree offer will see the surfwear retailer gain a six-year senior secured term loan of $386 million, along with a further $135 million through an equity placement. "This is a turning point for the company," Billabong chairman Ian Pollard says. "We'll now be back focused on business with a clear direction [and] new leadership. I must say, I'm looking forward to it." US Federal Reserve’s stimulus announcement causes the Aussie dollar to surge The US Federal Reserve’s announcement that it will continue its bond-buying stimulus program has caused an unexpected boost to the Australian dollar. The Aussie dollar recorded its largest single-day rise since 2011 – up US1.5 cents – following the announcement as the ASX 200 surged more than 1.1%. Stephen Elop’s $US25.5 million Nokia golden parachute Outgoing Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop is set to receive a €18.8 million ($25.5 million) golden parachute if shareholders agree to sell its mobile phone division to Microsoft. Elop’s termination agreement is set to include 18 months of his base salary, worth around €4.2 million, along with €14.6 million accelerated vesting of his outstanding equity awards. The controversial chief executive has been dubbed a “Trojan horse” by sections of the Finnish media. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down to 15636.6. the Aussie dollar is up to US94.40 cents.
Troubled surfwear retailer Billabong is ignoring calls by the Australian Shareholders’ Association to delay its deal with Altamont in order to properly evaluate a rival offer from private equity firms Centerbridge and Oaktree. “It seems to us you can't proceed and lock up one proposal that you say will be complete by October (when Billabong has flagged a shareholder vote) and properly evaluate another at the same time,” ASA chairman Ian Curry says. “It feels like Billabong is going to take the position it is too late to proceed with any new offers.” However, a Billabong spokesperson rejects the ASA’s demand, telling The Australian the company’s priority is to find the fastest path to certainty for employees and shareholders. “Is it really going to benefit the business and the 6000 people employed globally to go through another six months of due diligence, management discussions and the like? This also has costs,” a Billabong spokesperson says. Murray Goulburn calls for improved access to finance for agriculture Murray Goulburn Co-operative general manager of shareholder relations Robert Poole has called on the banks to forge alliances with overseas investors in order to finance the agricultural sector. The call comes as the co-op, which trades under the Devondale brand, launches MG Partnerships. “A lot of the banks are still funding agriculture like they did in the 1950s and 60s, with 50% equity and mums and dads borrowing money," Poole says. “That is, I think, going to rapidly change; and I think the banks are going to be involved in that or they are not, because the external capital is inevitably going to come. “Overseas investors are taking a more positive long-term view of agriculture than what a lot of local banks and superfunds are.” Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer announces resignation Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has announced plans to resign within the next 12 months, ending a controversial 13-year reign at the helm of the tech giant. “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer says in a statement. "This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love." Microsoft’s share price rose 7% following news of the resignation. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up to 15010.51. The Aussie dollar is up to US90.29 cents.
US hedge funds Centerbridge Partners and Oaktree Capital have accused Billabong of ignoring their rival debt-for-equity bid for the troubled surfwear giant, which they claim would have seen existing shareholders emerge with less debt and more equity. "Centerbridge and Oaktree are very credible, interested parties, and to not even have a discussion with them when they've flown in from the US was astonishing,” a source for the consortium told The Australian. Billabong chairman Ian Pollard rejects the accusation. “We gave [Centerbridge and Oaktree] ample opportunity to provide some indication, at the very least, of what their terms might be, but they indicated they couldn't put up a proposal until they had done due diligence. So we executed the only executable transaction we had,” Pollard says. Telstra threatens to sue Vodafone over 4G speed claims Telstra is threatening to sue Vodafone over claims its 4G network is the fastest in Australia and that its coverage now reaches 96% of the Australian population, claims the incumbent telecommunications giant alleges are untrue. "Telstra is confident of the claims that we make about our network. This type of action is not uncommon," a Telstra spokesperson says. "Vodafone customers in 4G areas with compatible devices will have access to speeds that are among the fastest not only in the country but in many parts of the world," Vodafone chief executive Bill Morrow said last month. Queensland government considering second Brisbane casino Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney has stated the question of a second Brisbane casino is an essential one for the state government, but it has not finalised a decision on whether or not Brisbane should be a one or two casino town. The news comes as both James Packer-led gaming giant Crown and Sydney casino operator Echo intensify their campaigns over a second Brisbane casino. “The casino operators have no need to be taking shots at each other in the public, in the media as we have seen,” Seeney says. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.12% to 15470.52. The Aussie dollar is up to US92.42 cents.
Surfwear giant Quiksilver has missed second quarter revenues and sales targets, announcing that it will dump non-core brands and liquidate excess inventory, placing further pressure on embattled rival Billabong. Quarterly losses at Quiksilver blew out to $US32.4 million, up from $US5.1 million a year ago, as revenue fell 6.8% to $US458.7 million. “Asia-Pacific revenues fell 9%, with the shortfall driven by headwinds in the Australia wholesale market. But we were pleased to see solid positive comp store sales growth in our full-price retail stores in that market,” Quiksilver chief financial officer Richard Shields said. Echo attacks Crown as Sydney casino battle intensifies Echo Entertainment chairman John O'Neill has lashed out at James Packer-controlled rival crown, alleging the casino giant is waging a “smear campaign” against Echo chief executive John Redmond as part of its campaign to win a second Sydney Casino licence. According to reports, the leaked emails allegedly detail an internal investigation by Echo into whether Redmond fell asleep in one of the bars at its Star Casino just weeks before taking over as chief executive. “These allegations are entirely baseless and the timing of this cheap smear campaign comes as no real surprise," Mr O'Neill told The Australian. Virgin looks to spread its wings further into Asia Virgin Australia is looking to begin running flights to Singapore using its long-range Boeing 777 or A330 aircraft in a bid to strengthen its alliance with Singapore Airlines. For its part, Singapore Airlines has purchased 19.9% of the shares in Virgin, with Virgin in turn recently cleared to take a controlling stake in Singapore Airlines controlled low-cost carrier Tiger Airways Australia. The move comes as Qantas moved its new international hub to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.06% to 15,238.59. the Aussie dollar is down to US94.64 cents.
As surfwear retail giant Billabong struggles to secure a solid bid for its ailing business, a two-year-old start-up named Boardcave.com is slowly but surely shaking up the industry. Founded by Ryan Mets, 26, and Chris Greben, 24, Boardcave.com markets and sells surfboards, which are custom-made by manufacturers across the country. After receiving a $50,000 Commercialisation Australia grant, Boardcave.com was able to launch a patent pending technology dubbed The Board Engine, which helps customers find and customise surfboards at competitive prices. The technology was used by more than 30,000 customers in the opening three months. And earlier this year, Boardcave was named Best Services Start-up at the 2013 StartupSmart Awards. In the next six months, the business is looking to double its orders, although Greben is confident orders could triple or even quadruple. Mets spoke to StartupSmart about the secrets behind Boardcave’s success: Save a struggling industry “I think one of the major things [that enabled Boardcave to secure a Commercialisation Australia grant] is we’re kind of targeting an industry that really does need help and it hasn’t really received much help,” Mets says. “Myself and Chris – being online professionals and surfers – identified a massive opportunity in the industry… We’re exposing [surfboard manufacturers] to a national audience of surfers. “This is a great opportunity for the surfing industry and I think that was made clear in our grant application – the national benefit.” Take the road less travelled Mets says Boardcave deals with a physical, big-ticket item – a prospect many start-ups would shy away from. “We see a lot of new innovative start-ups coming out that don’t come with the other series of challenges – of shipping large surfboards around Australia and insurance and logistics,” he says. “That does separate us but I suppose in a way that’s a massive opportunity because no one really wants to deal with those challenges.” Stay true to your target market Mets is quick to point out that, while Boardcave has learnt from Billabong’s mistakes, they are very different businesses. “We’re not relating ourselves in any way to Billabong. They’re a retailer and we’re really an online aggregator,” he says. “We just feel that we’re a lot leaner and really plan to stay lean, and really evolve with things. “The fact that we really identify with our core target audience – being board enthusiasts and actual surfers – [is a major strength].” Tap into nostalgic consumers “Surfing is an iconic sport in Australia. It would be a shame to see it go down the drain because it’s not operating online,” Mets says. “We definitely do play on it to some extent. Surfing is a favoured sport of many Australians – 2.4 million Australians surf or have an interest in surfing.” Embed your story in the business “In regards to our PR and things like that, and targeting national media, it’s been great, especially the fact that we’re young surfers and we’ve come from the corporate world,” Met says. “I think it’s really, really important. Any really kind of unique aspect you can bring to your story as a start-up… is really helpful I think. “The more interesting and relevant you can make it, depending on who you want to target, [the better].” Mould your business model “Proof of concept was just to kind of identify that there were people searching for surfboards online,” Mets says. “We went away and had many meetings… [We asked] a lot of the manufacturers to determine a business model that really wraps around their business. “We needed our business model to be flexible enough and simple enough so that everyone could get access to the listings… We built the whole system and so on around the surfboard manufacturers.” Get over age hang-ups “We initially didn’t want to mention our age to anyone,” Mets says. “I often will see other young entrepreneurs who have done something great. It’s really a talking point, especially with traditional kinds of businesses. “I think we’ve put our money where our mouth is and built something that is unique. We’re at the stage now where age is really not important whatsoever.”
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott is urging the federal government to aim for a surplus within three years and adopt a new set of fiscal rules for future federal budgets.
Troubled surfwear giant Billabong could be broken up if a joint $527 million bid for the company by US clothing giant VF Corporation and investment fund Altamont Capital Partners is successful.
A last-minute surge in Christmas shopping will see spending over the festive period edge past last year’s total, according to the peak retail body.
High-profile entrepreneurs Mark Bouris and James Packer have joined forces to launch a new venture that is set to take on the dominance of Australia Post.
The retail campaign to make online purchases subject to GST has been dealt a heavy blow, with prominent executives saying companies should give up the fight and accept it'll never happen.
Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has distanced himself from comments made by John Howard and reiterated that he would not look to reintroduce WorkChoices to Australian workplaces.
If someone knocked on your door with an offer for your business later today, what would you tell them?
Retail rents are expected to remain stable in 2012, according to Colliers International, despite store closures by major retailers including Dick Smith, Billabong and Specialty Fashion.
The backlash against the National Broadband Network’s business plan has already begun, with claims that the scheme’s profit margins will not be sustainable.
Telstra has released more details of its T-Tab tablet device. The tablet is set to significantly undercut Apple’s iPad with a price of $299. However, the device will be tied to the Telstra network.