"Acquisitions of this sort take some time to digest, and analysts are expecting Rossignol to drag on performance for the immediate future." -- Rich Duprey

Allow me to nominate my fellow Fool, Rich Duprey, for understatement-er-of-the-year (2005) for the above line. While his words were pessimistic, I doubt even he guessed just how badly sports apparel company Quiksilver's (NYSE:ZQK) annexation of French ski magnate Rossignol would ultimately fail.

Personally, while I predicted it would be bad, the scale of the disaster surprised even me. Kind of reminded me of Talbots' (NYSE:TWX) ill-considered purchase of J. Jill Group or Sears' (NASDAQ:SHLD) tie-up with Kmart. Over the three and a half years that it owned Rossignol, Quiksilver's management managed to destroy roughly half of the combined companies' market capitalization.

The Quik and the dead
But it ends here. Shares of Quiksilver spiked this morning as management finally owned up to its mistake and vowed to shed the dead weight that is Rossignol. However, it's paying a heavy price. After paying nearly $560 million to get into Rossignol, Quiksilver plans to part with its "prize" for a measly 100 million euro. Even at today's inflated exchange rate, that works out to less than $150 million.

Total loss on the investment: About 70%.

The Quik and the smart
In contrast, kudos today go to ex-Rossignol CEO and soon-to-be-again Rossignol CEO Bruno Cercley, who runs Chartreuse & Mont Blanc (jointly owned by Macquarie Group and Jarden (NYSE:JAH)). Probably no one knows better than he how to fix what ails Rossignol. What's more, in stark contrast to Quiksilver, he's going to be buying this one on the cheap.

Now that's smart.

What's Quiksilver been up to lately (aside from wiping out shareholder value, that is)? Find out in:

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. Why do we tell you this? Because The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Sears is an Inside Value selection.