Rumor: Ducati Considering Selling Its Stock?

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According to the Dow Jones Newswire, Investindustrial, the private equity firm behind Ducati Motor Holding SpA, is considering putting the Italian motorcycle company’s stock up for sale in a private offering next year. Investindustrial bought the Texas Pacific Group’s 45% share in Ducati back in 2006, becoming the company’s largest single investor. Later in June 2008, the private equity firm lead by Carlo and Andrea Bonomi increased its stake in Ducati, controlling 84.6% of the company’s stock.

If today’s rumors are true, Investindustrial would be dumping some, if not all, of its shares in Ducati, likely into other investment groups. Though other motorcycles news sites are quick to call this an IPO, there is no indication at this time that Investindustrial plans on making the stock offering public (the Dow Jones Newswire in fact specifically says that the offering is private), meaning that Ducati’s stock will not be available to regular stock purchasers, but will instead be bid on by banks, investment groups, and other large corporations.

This of course doesn’t preclude Ducati’s stock from ending up on the public stock markets, but giving credence to such speculation is premature at this juncture. What this rumor does do though is add credence to the chatter we heard earlier in the year the Ducati was wooing Mercedes-Benz into an acquisition of the Italian motorcycle maker. We’ll have to wait and hear more from out sources if Mercedes-Benz is one of the potential investors Ducati is consulting with over this possible stock sale (or if that ship has sailed); but at the very least the two rumors appear to be linked, as Investindustrial is again pegged as wanting to divest from Ducati.

On paper Ducati is looking like a stronger investment than usual, as the company posted £79 million ($155 million) in EBITDA in 2010. Abroad, Ducati has increased its presence, and in Asia, motorcycling’s only growth market, the Italian company has doubled its market share up to 9%, which is impressive considering the economic apocalypse that has occurred in the industry lately.

With Ducati’s strong performance and likely future depending on Asian market sales, speculation is that the motorcycle maker will make its strongest investment moves in that region, which could bring some interesting names into the mainstream motorcycle market, and has put the Hong Kong stock market as point of possible IPO in the future.

With several new models set to debut in November, and strong earnings so far this year, Ducati could be set to drop some bombshells at the end of the year that could help raise the price on its stock. We expect to see more traction on this news item around that time. Stay tuned.

Source: WSJ