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NEW YORK (AP) - Australian surfwear maker Billabong International Ltd. says it has received a buyout offer of 526.8 million Australian dollars ($555.5 million) from a U.S. group including clothing company VF Corp. that matches a takeover offer it received earlier.

The company said Monday that the VF group, which also includes private equity firm Altamont Capital Partners, is offering 1.10 Australian dollars per share ($1.16).

Billabong- whose brands include Palmers Surf, Von Zipper, its namesake and others- currently has about 478.9 million outstanding shares, according to FactSet.

The company has struggled to turn around results, cutting hundreds of jobs in 2012 and selling half of its Nixon Inc. watches and accessories brand.

VF Corp., whose brands include Wrangler, Nautica and The North Face, said in a statement that it is mostly interested in the Billabong brand. Altamont is interested in the other brands and related assets.

Their bid is identical to an offer Billabong received from a group including board member Paul Naude, Sycamore Partners Management and Bank of America Merrill Lynch in December.

The matching offers are below a 695 million Australian dollars ($734.6 million), or 1.45 Australian dollars ($1.53) per share, offer that Billabong received from private equity company TPG International in July. In September Billabong said it received an offer identical to TPG's from an undisclosed party, but said at that time that both offers did not value the company high enough.

TPG had initially offered 3 Australian dollars ($3.17) per share to Billabong in February, but lowered its offer in July due to the continued deterioration of the company's financial performance.

Billabong is giving both the VF group and the Sycamore group the right to conduct due diligence to get a better understanding of its value.

The company said that it will be evaluating the offers over an approximately six week period to see if it can secure a bid "at a price and on terms that the board would recommend."


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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