Audi Buys Ducati for $1.1 Billion

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UPDATE: Audi’s Board of Directors has announced its approval of the acquisition of Ducati.

According to reports, Audi has finished its acquisition of Ducati Motor Holdings, to the tune of €860 million ($1.128 billion), and will announce the purchase tomorrow at is annual shareholders meeting. The deal reportedly sees Audi, through its parent company the Volkswagen Group, acquiring Ducati for roughly seven times what it earned in revenue last year, but Audi is also assuming all of Ducati’s debt, which has been rumored as high as €200 million, making the revenue multiple significantly smaller.

Audi had until April 15th to exclusively talk to Investindustrial about acquiring the company’s 70% stake in Ducati, and with that deadline passing, talk of another purchaser joining the acquisition deal began to rumble from the media. With Investindustrial’s Andrea Bonomi vaguely hinting that this week would be an important week for the negotiations, it would seem the Italian businessman was hinting at the closure of the deal, and not a second party entering the fray as many publications had thought.

The deal has been a journey for VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech, who was a bidder on Ducati in 2008 when it was sold to Investindustrial. Typically regarded as an aspirational acquisition target, financial analysts are not too bullish on hearing news of the deal. With the Volkswagen Group still facing challenges in its ownership of Porsche and some of its other brands, adding Ducati’s relatively small income to the consortium will do little financially, while there is debate over whether the Italian motorcycle manufacturer brings anything to the table from an engineering perspective.

For Ducati the road has been an interesting one, as 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 mentioning of a private offering and the rumor of a public listing on the Hong Kong stock index.

With those outcomes clearly not occurring, we dare say that Ducati is finding a more stable home within Audi and the Volkswagen Group. Providing access to capital and experience manufacturing on a global scale, the German company has a lot to offer Ducati, and has shown with its work on Lamborghini, that it knows how to handle an iconic Italian brand. For Ducatisti around the globe, the one fear that may come true from this deal is the increased production of Ducati motorcycles outside of Italy, which quite frankly is one of the best business moves the company could make in an effort to establish itself as a profitable and secure motorcycle marque. How that will go over with brand stakeholders remains to be seen though.

Source: Reuters & Bloomberg