Ducati’s lightweight engine expertise, its racetrack pedigree and the unique sound and styling of its motorcycles are very likely the characteristics that have prompted Audi to enter talks to purchase the superbike maker. Audi is reportedly already in negotiations with the private equity group that controls the company about a purchase, according to two sources.
Getting the deal would mean that Audi would be able to extend its rivalry with BMW to superbikes. Volkswagen, Audi’s parent, would also benefit from Ducati’s know-how in producing high-revving light engines. This expertise may be applied to VW’s cars, heavy trucks, and even its ship engines. Notably, Audi has turned its Ingolstadt headquarters into a major research and development center for lightweight fuel saving technologies. Getting access to Ducati's engine technology would result to the addition of a new development dimension.
A source said that Audi is currently conducting due diligence and that the purchase may be completed by the middle of April. So far, none of the parties concerned -- Volkswagen, Audi and Ducati's main shareholder, Investindustrial – have commented on these reports. Founded in 1926, Ducati had gotten 17 manufacturer's World Championship titles in the last 60 years. It recently took home the 2011 World Superbike Championship award. Its famous owners include Ferdinand Piech, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, who obviously have a liking for its unique steel-framed machines powered by loud, barking engines.
Piech is Volkswagen's current chairman and is the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, the creator of the VW Beetle. Just last month, Investindustrial announced that it was searching for "world class industrial partner" for Ducati to help in its overseas expansion. Investindustrial's chairman Andrea Bonomi told The Financial Times that it was hoping to sell.
It also put the price at around 850 million euros ($1.1 billion) of which 800 million would be acquired debt. This report also stated that a stock market listing for the business was scuttled last year. Nevertheless, Investindustrial continues to meet with other potential investors, such as sovereign wealth funds, another source said. India-based Hero MotoCorp. is one of the possible industrial partners. [source: Autonews]