The final rubber stamp of approval to Audi AG’s acquisition of Ducati Motor Holding, the European Commission has cleared the transaction of any antitrust red tape. A deal that was over a year in the making, the German automaker bought the Italian motorcycle company for a cool €860 million, including debt. Positioning Audi, and its parent-company Volkswagen, to take-on the likes of the BMW Group, the deal was met with mixed-emotions in the automotive and motorcycling communities during its announcement.
The biggest question mark in the transaction is what exactly Audi plans on doing with the Ducati brand, as many view the transaction as simply a feather in the automaker’s cap (as was the case with TPG’s acquisition of Ducati in 1996). Though the VW Group has proven capable of handling premium Italian brands (e.g. Bugatti & Lamborghini), there has been some concern over how the Bologna brand will fit into the company’s overall structure. With some discounting any technical knowledge Ducati could teach Audi about small-displacement motors, the real boon for Audi in the transaction could reside elsewhere.
On aspect could come from averaged emission standards in Europe for vehicle manufacturers. With the EU cracking down on company-range wide CO2 emissions on vehicles, Ducati could help serve to lower Audi’s overall emissions score, in a similar fashion that BMW Motorrad affects BMW Automotive’s rating.
The reasoning could be even more simple than that though, as Audi could simply be looking at what BMW has been able to achieve with BMW Motorrad’s nearly quarter-million in yearly unit volume. Selling nearly 200,000 more units per year than Ducati, Audi could be seeing this marker as the growth potential of the Ducati brand, as the Italian company has an equally, if not stronger brand and more robust product line-up than its German counterpart.
A six-fold return on investment, now what company wouldn’t like that?