According to Italy’s Correrie di Bologna, the Volkswagen Group has made a €750 million bid on Ducati Motor Holdings. Just shy of Investindustrial’s reported €832 million asking price on the Italian motorcycle manufacturer. Reports are also saying that Volkswagen’s due diligence process has uncovered that Ducati has less debt on its books than previously thought (previously rumored to be in the €200 million range), and that the €750 million offer would nearly double Investindustrial’s initial purchase price of the Italian company.
Said to have until the middle of April to make an offer, the Volkswagen Group’s current proposal is lower than the €850 million originally rumored earlier this month. Despite it being less than Investindustrial’s initial valuation of €1 billion, the deal is said to be close to finalization, with Italian politicians and union members weighing in on the prospect of German involvement with the Italian brand.
Investindustrial owns a controlling interest in Ducati Motor Holdings, holding roughly 70% of the Ducati’s stock. Private equity fund BS owns 20% of Ducait’s stock (that’s not a typo), while the Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan own roughly 7% of the company. This means the Volkswagen Group only needs to come to an accord with Investindustrial in order to take control and ownership of Ducati, though minority shareholders in Italy do have more rights than those here in the United States.
For a bit of history, Ducati’s first suitor was AMG (read: Mercedes-Benz), and while Ducati was keen to sell to the german sport car manufacturer, the Stuttgart natives were reportedly less enthusiastic about the idea. Though AMG and Ducati didn’t enter into a shotgun wedding, the two parties did have a quick torrid affair that resulted in the two companies sharing their marketing efforts, which included the creation of the Ducati Diavel AMG. With the romance reportedly ending late last year, Ducati continued to flirt across the bar with several other brands, and even sent some very ouvert signals with the mention of a private offering and the rumor of a public listing on the Hong Kong stock index.
With the Ducati deal seemingly ready to close any day now, there are also murmurings that Volkswagen is getting ready to unload its 20% interest in Suzuki. An alliance that was forged to give VW access to the Japanese smaller-displacement engine designs, that relationship has since gone extremely sour, and now with Ducati on the hook, it would also seem to be a redundancy for the German company.