Searches called off for Quiksilver boss missing at sea off France

France's coastguard on Wednesday called off searches for the head of the U.S. firm that owns the Quiksilver surfwear brand, a day after his boat washed up empty on the country's Atlantic coast, local authorities said.

Pierre Agnes had gone out fishing in his 36-foot (11-meter) boat on Tuesday morning and later sent out a message to port authorities indicating that he was delaying his return because of thick fog.

A sea search with four helicopters and two boats was launched after his beached boat was found without him not far from Hossegor, the surfing resort where the 54-year-old had set out. The former surfing champion joined Quiksilver in 1998 and rose in the ranks until he became chief executive in 2014 of surfwear retailer Boardriders, which owns Roxy and DC shoes along with Quiksilver.

He managed the California-based company from Quiksilver's European headquarters in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a seaside town not far from France's border with Spain.

Boardriders Inc announced on Jan. 5 it had agreed to buy Australia's Billabong International Ltd in a deal that valued the company at A$ 197.7 million ($159.92 million).

The deal came nearly two years after Boardriders emerged from a five-month stint in bankruptcy court triggered by competition and operational issues that plagued performance.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2015 and transferred control to U.S. private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management, its largest debtholder, as part of the restructuring process.

Oaktree holds a 19 percent stake in Billabong. (Reporting by Claude Canellas; writing by Leigh Thomas; editing by Andrew Roche) 

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