Fidelity Acquires Five Percent Of Billabong

Sydney, Aug. 29–FMR Corp., the owner of Fidelity Investments, acquired 5.4 percent of Billabong International Ltd., an Australian surf wear retailer.

Boston-based Fidelity, the largest U.S. mutual fund company, bought 5.9 million ordinary Billabong shares, according to a filing with the Australian Stock Exchange.

The majority of the shares were bought on Aug. 11, Billabong’s first day of trading, at a price of $1.85 each. Fidelity also bought shares on Aug. 7, mostly at $1.53 each, and on Aug 16 at $1.80.

Billabong shares have traded between A$3.01 ($1.72) and A$3.24 ($1.85) in their first nine days.

The Queensland state-based company, which generates about half its sales in the U.S., debuted 36 percent above its initial public offer price. Founder Gordon Merchant sold half his 50 percent stake in the IPO.

Billabong last week reported sales of A$226.8 million in fiscal 2000, higher than its prospectus forecast of $225.3 million. Earnings before interest and tax was A$38.1 million, compared with its forecast of A$37.8 million. The company expects earnings to grow to A$66.7 million in fiscal 2001.

Other shareholders include Gordon & Rena Merchant No2 Pty Ltd with 23 percent and Jontex Pty Ltd. with 7 percent.

Billabong shares fell 3 cents to A$3.12, giving the company a market value of A$598 million.