As far as Aussie surf culture goes, the names Billabong and Quiksilver are nothing short of iconic, kitting out everyone from the pro surfers on your TV screens to half of Bondi Beach. Now, the parent company that owns both Quiksilver and Billabong on track to sell to the American-based Authentic Brands Group in a deal reportedly worth US$1.3 billion (AU$1.9 billion).
As reported by Bloomberg, the sale of Boardriders Inc., which also owns the surf brands including Roxy, RVCA, Element, and VonZipper is in its final stages but isn’t confirmed and the deal isn’t yet public. Boardriders Inc. was bought by distressed company specialists Oaktree Capital Management in 2016 when it was still called Quiksilver, following bankruptcy proceedings, before acquiring Billabong two years later, completing its collection of large Australian surf brands.
Its probable new owner Authentic Brands Group is known for its growth-by-acquisition strategy, already counting Reebok, Brooks Brothers, Nautica, and many other brands in its portfolio, as well as the likeness rights or estates of Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe.
It’s been a slow decline for the brands that built themselves around local surfing culture with Billabong once worth $5 billion at its peak, but new ownership with Authentic Brands Group could be exactly what Quiksilver and Billabong need. The return of Brooks Brothers to Australian shores last month, for instance, is pretty sound evidence of the group’s track record with struggling labels.