Billabong shares plummet as company records $859m loss

SHARES in ailing surf wear company Billabong International dived dramatically on Tuesday after it revealed an after-tax net loss of $859.5 million in the past financial year.

The market was quick to react to the news, with Billabong's share price dropping 13% in early trading to 46 cents.

Predictions of a $650 million loss proved to be way off the mark, with a 13.5% collapse in global sales and significant write-downs and impairment charges across the company's various brands driving the result.

It comes after Billabong, whose financial woes have been well-documented in recent years, posted a $287 million after-tax loss in 2011/12.

Considering the gravity of the loss, Billabong chairman Ian Pollard was remarkably upbeat and predicted a "strong future" for the company, whose founder and biggest shareholder Gordon Merchant counts a multi-million property in Angourie among his assets.

Dr Pollard said managing multiple bids and refinancing proposals had proven to be a "significant distraction" for everyone involved with the company.

"Financial stability is critical to rebuilding Billabong," Dr Pollard said in a statement.

"Liquidity has been secured and we are within weeks of finalising our long-term funding arrangements. Our shareholders, our staff and our various business partners can be confident that we have a strong future following the most challenging period in the company's history."

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