Billabong dumps long-time boss

MADELEINE HEFFERNAN
Last updated 17:22 09/05/2012

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Surfwear business Billabong has dumped CEO Derek O'Neill and replaced him with a former Target boss following a tumultuous six months at the company.

Billabong has appointed former Target head Launa Inman as its new managing director and CEO, with O'Neill to "depart the company today". Its shares lost as much as four cents, or 1.7 per cent, to A$2.36 in early trade today.

In a statement this morning, Billabong said the board had decided that the company "required new leadership and skill sets for the next stage of its development".

"Derek O'Neill has been with Billabong for more than 20 years and we thank him for his service and wish him best for the future," chairman Ted Kunkel said.

Inman, a Commonwealth Bank board member, has spent the past two months consulting with Billabong. She formerly served as managing director of Target Australia and head of Officeworks.

The company's shares plunged from A$3.64 to A$1.77 just before Christmas last year on a poorly received profit downgrade blamed on unfavourable weather in the northern hemisphere and weak consumer sentiment.

In February this year, its shares regained some of the lost ground, rising from A$1.79 to A$2.62 when the company received A$3.30 a share buyout offer from TPG. The offer was rejected with Billabong arguing it undervalued the company.

The company instead unveiled a turnaround plan that includes job cuts, store closures, the sale of its Nixon brand and cost savings.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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