* Rip Curl founded in 1969, still in private hands
* FY 2013 EBITDA seen at A$48 mln
* BofA Merrill Lynch hired to advise on possible sale
* Rival Billabong is fielding two private equity offers
By Victoria Thieberger
MELBOURNE, Sept 17 Australian surfwear company
Rip Curl said it has received unsolicited approaches from
several international companies wanting to invest in the
privately held firm, in a deal that could fetch up to A$480
million ($506 million).
Australia's beaten down retailers have proved attractive for
buyout firms this year as harsh trading conditions battered
sales and share prices. Rip Curl Group Pty Ltd's larger rival
Billabong International Ltd is fielding two private
Earlier, a source told Reuters that Rip Curl could seek
about 10 times its forecast fiscal 2013 earnings before
interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of A$48 million.
The person declined to be identified as the details are
Rip Curl, founded in 1969 by friends Doug "Claw" Warbrick
and Brian "Sing Ding" Singer near the surfing haven of Bells
Beach, southwest of Melbourne, is one of the three largest
global surfwear brands.
The company said it has appointed Bank of America Merrill
Lynch to assess the merits of introducing an investor to the
"We have recently received unsolicited approaches from
several international organisations which have indicated a
desire to invest in our company," Rip Curl said in a statement.
It added that unaudited revenues and earnings for the year
to June had increased over the prior year, in contrast to
general surf industry performance.
ONE MAIN BRAND
Rip Curl competes with Billabong and Quiksilver Inc,
which was also founded near Bells Beach in 1969 but listed in
the United States in 1986.
Billabong, which is struggling after a debt-fuelled global
expansion just before the financial crisis hit, has had two
takeover offers worth $700 million, from U.S. private equity
firm Bain Capital LLC and from TPG Capital. Both are
examining Billabong's books.
Rip Curl is a manufacturer and retailer, with stores in
Australia and New Zealand, the United States and Canada, Europe
and South America. It has one main brand, unlike Billabong,
which owns many brands.
Its founders took over an old house in the seaside town of
Torquay and bought a pre-World War II sewing machine to start
production of wetsuits, according to the company's web site.
The owners are now aged 68 and 70 and are considering their
options for the business, having had approaches over the past