The Volkswagen Group got a new CEO last week, and in less than seven days, that news has already sparked renewed rumors in the German automobile conglomerate divesting itself of Ducati Motor Holdings.
For those who have been following Ducati’s saga, there was much talk last year of Volkswagen selling off a number of its other brands, all under the reasoning that the German company would need to raise capital to cover its mounting Dieselgate liabilities.
There was a fly in the ointment though: Volkswagen’s labor unions, who control half of the VW Group’s board seats, and were vehemently opposed to any brand divestitures.
Because of the unions, any sale – including Ducati’s – was a non-starter for the Volkswagen executives, though that didn’t keep the warring factions from trying. By the end of last year though, it seemed we had put this issue to bed. 2018, however, is a new year.
As such, today we see a renewed interest in this rumor, and its line of reasoning. This is because of whom VW now has at its helm, Herbert Diess.
The 59-year-old executive is known as the “Kostenkiller” or “Cost Killer” for his attention to the bottom line of the balance sheet while at BMW.
Motorcyclists will be interested to know as well that Diess was the head of BMW Motorrad between 2003 and 2007, and was part of the team that bought Husqvarna from MV Agusta in 2007, for €93 million, which turned into a huge financial folly for the Bavarian brand.
And, as he replaces former Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller, he does so not only with the backing of VW’s labor unions, but also with a mandate to streamline VW’s business operations.
What does that mean for Ducati? Well Herr Diess has made no secret about his desire to reorganize VW’s car brands into several more efficient divisions within the company, lumping brands into similar groups – Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche into a “Super Premium” group, for example – rather than VW’s currently convoluted ownership structure.
For the non-automotive brands though, like MAN diesel trucks, Renk transmissions, and Ducati motorcycles, there will be an evaluation on a case-by-case basis, to see which brands either receive further investment from the Volkswagen Group, or see themselves sold to the highest bidder.
Has there been any concrete movement on Ducati thus far? No that we have heard, but here at the A&R HQ, we have started the timer for when we see our first rumor stories about the Italian motorcycle marque’s sale, and the usual list of suspects that will be drawn out as potential buyers. Stay tuned.