Australia's Billabong names new chairman

MELBOURNE, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Australian surfwear retailer Billabong International Ltd , which is fending off a $700 million private equity bid, said on Tuesday it has appointed former fashion executive Ian Pollard as chairman to guide a turnaround.

TPG Capital Management LP has spent six weeks examining the books of Billabong, but last week expressed concerns to the company about what it has found, with media reports suggesting TPG may drop its offer.

Current Billabong chairman Ted Kunkel, who previously announced plans to step down, presided over a rapid debt-fuelled expansion before the global financial crisis hit. Billabong rejected a higher takeover offer from TPG in February worth $904 million.

Pollard is a past chairman of Just Group, the owner of several youth-oriented fashion retail chains including Just Jeans, Dotti and JayJays. Just has since been taken over by Premier Investments Ltd .

"Ian will bring a strong mix of commercial and financial expertise to assist with the ongoing transformation of the Billabong business," Kunkel said in a statement.

Billabong has said it is pursuing a four-year overhaul of its business to combat sliding sales and profits.

Pollard will join the board as chairman elect after the annual shareholders' meeting on Oct. 24.

(Reporting by Victoria Thieberger; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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