Billabong dismisses talks of J-Bay closure

Shaun Gillham

BILLABONG South Africa general manager Ernest Bendeman has slammed media reports that its Jeffreys Bay factory, which employs 170 people, is facing closure.

“This is pure speculation and it is unfounded,” he said.

Bendeman added that staff were constantly updated on issues facing the company, including the current $287- million (R2.6-billion) buy-out proposal of Billabong International’s holding company which sparked the closure rumours. “It is business as usual at the factory and at Billabong in South Africa,” hesaid.

Bendeman said Australia- based Billabong International had experienced difficulties in recent years, which had seen its share prices plummet, and the company had fielded buy-out approaches.

“An offer to purchase Billabong’s holding company, Australian-based GSM, which owns other prominent brands, was headed by US- based South African Paul Naude in conjunction with investment company Sycamore Partners, which formed a consortium for the deal.

Billabong granted Sycamore a 10-day exclusivity period to consider the transaction and Billabong’s books, which expired on Tuesday.

“Following a request for an extension, Billabong yesterday granted Sycamore a further 10 business days to access the deal,” he said.

Former Billabong South Africa owner Cheron Kraak said it was disappointing not to have an event such as a Billabong Pro on offer this year, but it was not the first year the town had not had a major surfing event, “so we will certainly survive”.


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