When it comes to potential buyers, Billabong has a habit of getting to various stages of dating and then being dumped before it gets to the altar.
Over the past year private equity firms TPG and Bain took a look at the Billabong numbers and on closer inspection lost their nerve to make a formal offer.
Now there is a new bout of buying interest. But this time it comes from within the company - one of its own executive directors, Paul Naude.
Naude has decided to stand down from his role at Billabong while he talks to potential investors about a leveraged buy-out.
It is a difficult position to take. The company says that Naude did not initiate discussions with outside parties but is clearly willing to be enlisted by these unnamed parties to assess whether a deal can be done and has taken this role on with gusto.
'‘Mr Naude has advised that he is seeking to hold discussions with potential financiers, both debt and equity, to gain their support for a potential change of control transaction of Billabong."
The issue is that Naude is intimately acquainted with how Billabong is travelling and what it might be worth. He is Billabong’s president of the Americas and a member of the board and therefore a perfect conduit for would-be private equity partners.
Presumably given Naude was approached by the potential suitor he would be the pick to run Billabong in the event of a successful buy-out.
The board won’t be enjoying this new turn of events. Despite the fact that the outgoing chairman, Ted Kunkel, said at the annual meeting last month that the company was open to all comers interested in a takeover the reality is that the recently minted management, under Launa Inman and chairman Ian Pollard would undoubtedly prefer to get on with turning around the trouble surf and ski wear retailer.
Meanwhile, Billabong’s founder and largest shareholder, Gordon Merchant, has not been a party to Naude’s plan.
While the board might not be enamoured with the latest turn of events, the large institutional shareholders would be very keen to the share price receive some new life.
They were highly critical of Merchant and the board for rejecting TPG’s $1.45 indicative offer earlier this year.
Given this history, the company will be virtually obliged to offer any real suitors the chance to do due diligence but only if it's a legitimate buyer sufficiently financed and capable of transacting a deal.
At this stage Naude’s move looks more like a punt than a certainty - Billabong has yet to receive any kind of proposal although it's understood the board is aware of who Naude is dealing with.