Reuters is reporting that Harley-Davidson is preparing a bid for Ducati, which is being put up for sale by owner Volkswagen. Volkswagen’s Audi division has controlled Ducati since it acquired the company from Investindustrial in 2012, and according to Reuters is selling off the iconic Italian marque in order to fund a “strategic overhaul” following its emissions scandal.
Reuters doesn’t identify its sources as the “process is private,” but details have emerged that seem to indicate Harley is serious, including that Harley has hired Goldman Sachs to work the deal, and that tentative bids are expected in July.
Harley is bidding against numerous private equity firms and other industry players. Potential suitors include Ducati’s previous owner, Investindustrial, private equity funds KKR, Bain Capital and Permira, and Indian motorcycle manufacturer Bajaj Auto.
Volkswagen has indicated that it hopes to raise between 1.4 and 1.5 billion euros (1.56 to 1.67 billion dollars). Indian motorcycle makers Hero MotoCorp and TVS Motor Company initially expressed interest but walked away when they heard the price. BMW, Honda and Suzuki reportedly also decided against bidding for Ducati.
So what would it mean if two of the world’s most storied marques were to come together? This wouldn’t be the first time Harley bought an Italian motorcycle manufacturer. It picked up beleaguered MV Agusta in 2008, unloading it just two years later for a tidy profit of…zero. Interestingly, former Ducati General Manager and Chief Engineer Massimo Bordi was the man at the helm of MV Agusta when Harley unloaded it, and one of the last things he’d done while at Ducati was to attempt to negotiate the sale of the brand to Harley.
You can read the original Reuters story here.