For the past few months, talk of Ducati’s divestiture from the Volkswagen Group has grabbed the attention from news outlets and Ducatisti alike, as the future of the Italian motorcycle company seemed uncertain.
Internally, a power struggle was a play, with Audi keen to unload Ducati from its books, but lacking the support from upper management in the Volkswagen Group.
Talks reportedly hit the skids once it was realized that the Volkswagen labor unions, which control half of the seats on the Volkswagen Group management board, weren’t onboard with divesting Ducati from the holding group.
This is probably information that investors would have liked to know, before they spent the time and resources putting together purchase proposals for Audi’s consideration.
Now, with no change in the position of VW’s labor unions, and with the possibility of an internal consensus seemingly out of sight, it seems talk of Ducati’s divestiture have stalled, with little chance of them resuming this year.
This news is probably welcomed by Ducatisti, who have seen some of Ducati’s most stable years occur during Audi’s ownership of Ducati Motor Holding.
For companies like Polaris, Benetton, Investindustrial, and Bain Capital however, the news is certainly frustrating, as bids up to €1.3 billion were reportedly made on the Italian motorcycle brand.
The sale of Ducati would likely have done very little for the Volkswagen Group, in terms of the sale’s reported purpose of raising money for the company’s Dieselgate fines and penalties. Instead, the selling of Ducati had more to do with internal riffs at the German conglomerate.
Volkswagen is set to turn its focus on more green transportation options, like electrics and transportation services. As we have talked about on Asphalt & Rubber before, the whole concept of transportation is in flux right now, and our last generation of car-drivers has likely already been born.
With seemingly bigger fish to fry, and Ducati Motor Holding a money-making asset on Audi’s balance sheet, the reasons to keep the brand always outpaced the reasons to sell it.
Throw into the mix the solidarity found amongst European trade unions, and you have a considerable hurdle for pro-divestiture business-types to overcome.
While nothing is certain for the future of Ducati, as can be said about most things in life, would-be buyers certainly won’t come back to the table until there is a clear consensus and path for Ducati’s acquisition from Audi AG.
Until that happens, consider this deal dead.