French authorities have deployed boats and helicopters off the coast of southwest France to search for Pierre Agnes, the chief executive of sportswear maker Boardriders Inc. — the parent of the Quiksilver, Roxy and DC Shoes brands — after his empty boat was found washed ashore.
The port authority of the Atlantic beach town of Capbreton said the search was launched after Agnes' empty boat was found washed up Tuesday in nearby Hossegor. In a statement, Boardriders said that 54-year-old Agnes had gone fishing on his "beloved" boat, as he often did in the mornings, and that he had not been heard from since.
"The Boardriders family and entire surfing world are devastated by this news," the Huntington Beach company said. "We are concentrating on working with the local authorities on the search and rescue effort and supporting Pierre's family."
Maritime authorities said two boats and three helicopters were involved in the search.
The area is known for intense, sometimes dangerous waves that are prized by surfers.
According to Agence France-Press, Agnes went out in his boat early Tuesday and later told authorities that because of fog, he would return later than he'd initially planned.
Quiksilver, known for its surfwear, was founded in Australia but is now majority-owned by an American investment group, Oaktree Capital Management, and based in California.
Agnes was the head of its France-based European headquarters before being named CEO of the whole company in 2015. He is a French citizen and resident, but spent time at Boardriders' Huntington Beach headquarters.
With demand for surfwear shrinking, Quiksilver filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection months after Agnes took the helm, then emerged in 2016. It changed its name to Boardriders last year.
Weeks ago, it announced a deal valued at $315 million to acquire fellow surfwear company Billabong International Ltd.
Under the terms of the deal, which was slated to close in the first half of this year, Agnes was to become president of the combined company and lead what Boardriders called "a substantial part" of the companies' integration.
Dave Tanner, currently managing director at Oaktree and chief turnaround officer at Boardriders, is set to become the company's chief executive once the deal closes.
Boardriders is looking to expand its presence overseas. In an interview this month, Tanner said the combined companies generate less than 40% of revenue from North America.
Los Angeles Times staff writers Lauren Raab and Samantha Masunaga contributed to this report.
2:20 p.m.: This article was updated to include more information about Boardriders' acquisition of Billabong.
1:30 p.m.: This article was updated to include a statement from Boardriders.