Negotiations are ongoing for Audi to purchase luxury motorbike producer Ducati Motor Holding from owner Investindustrial, according to a few sources. Audi may buy the Italian firm for a total price of about 850 million euros ($1.12 billion). This may include assuming about 800 million euros in liabilities. Audi has the right of first refusal on a purchase until the middle of April.
Parent Volkswagen already has nine brands and acquiring Ducati would mean that it offers products like the $28,000 Superbike 1199 Panigale S Tricolore. Last month, two sources said that it was in April 2008 that VW Group Chairman Ferdinand Piech first showed an interest in buying Ducati in April 2008.
However, it eventually lost to Investindustrial, a private equity company based in Milan. It’s likely that there may be an initial public offering of Ducati in Hong Kong this year or it may sell it to a competitor.
In 2008, Ducati was delisted from the Milan exchange. Nevertheless, Audi would still have to do due diligence on the possible deal. Last Monday, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was asked during the automaker’s annual meeting if VW was interested in buying Ducati.
He replied that he will be on the lookout for what's for sale on the market. Christine Ritz, who heads VW investor relations, said that the automaker can’t comment on market speculation. On March 5, Hero MotoCorp Ltd., the biggest motorcycle maker in India, said that Ducati is one of the assets it's looking at as it searches for acquisitions for its overseas expansion. Last month, BMW, which manufactures motorcycles under the BMW brand, said that it doesn’t have any interest in Ducati.