Audi Offers €750 Million for Ducati

03/28/2012 @ 11:56 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

According to Italy’s Correrie di Bologna, the Volkswagen Group has made a €750 million bid on Ducati Motor Holdings. Just shy of Investindustrial’s reported €832 million asking price on the Italian motorcycle manufacturer. Reports are also saying that Volkswagen’s due diligence process has uncovered that Ducati has less debt on its books than previously thought (previously rumored to be in the €200 million range), and that the €750 million offer would nearly double  Investindustrial’s initial purchase price of the Italian company.

Said to have until the middle of April to make an offer, the Volkswagen Group’s current proposal is lower than the €850 million originally rumored earlier this month. Despite it being less than Investindustrial’s initial valuation of €1 billion, the deal is said to be close to finalization, with Italian politicians and union members weighing in on the prospect of German involvement with the Italian brand.

Investindustrial owns a controlling interest in Ducati Motor Holdings, holding roughly 70% of the Ducati’s stock. Private equity fund BS owns 20% of Ducait’s stock (that’s not a typo), while the Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan own roughly 7% of the company. This means the Volkswagen Group only needs to come to an accord with Investindustrial in order to take control and ownership of Ducati, though minority shareholders in Italy do have more rights than those here in the United States.

For a bit of history, 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 mention of a private offering and the rumor of a public listing on the Hong Kong stock index.

With the Ducati deal seemingly ready to close any day now, there are also murmurings that Volkswagen is getting ready to unload its 20% interest in Suzuki. An alliance that was forged to give VW access to the Japanese smaller-displacement engine designs, that relationship has since gone extremely sour, and now with Ducati on the hook, it would also seem to be a redundancy for the German company.

Source: Correrie di Bologna via Two Wheels Blog

  • Ervgopwr

    As a rider and driver of each (respectively) I can only say that the mantra from a mentor still holds true:

    Drive – German
    Ride – Italian
    Kiss – French

  • Halfie 30

    Going to be a sad day when I have to polish my Duc, and sell. This deal will make Ducati go south.

  • Jake

    Audi and Ducati seem like much better bedfellows than Audi and Suzuki. For one thing, they share all the right letters.

  • @Halfie 30: It always amazes me when people speak of selling their currently-owned, excellent product because of the possibility that future products from said company won’t be as good. Is that some kind of guilt-by-association complex that would push you to give up something you love?

  • Halfie 30

    I work on VW’s and Audi’s at my shop all the time. Other than the R8 and other high end cars in the range they are trash. Amazingly difficult to work on, and yes that kind of company buying Ducati soils their reputation for me. Guilty by association is putting it lightly… LoL. If Audi stays hands off..? Ok, but after the disaster with Suzuki, and holding more share in Ducati, their horrible engineering will make it into the bikes some how. Like AMF when they bought into Harley.

  • kostritzer

    Audi has horrible engineering? Compared to what, an alien spacecraft? Audi has some of the most advanced technology and engineering of any manufacturer on the planet. Up until the panigale, ducati most certainly did not! Just because a car is difficult to work on doesn’t mean it is “horribly engineered”, it just means its likely to be tightly packaged. I also work on VW and Audi products on a daily basis, and its so obvious every time I work on one that their engineering is in a different league compared to every American vehicle I’ve worked on, and most Japanese brands with the exception of Honda maybe. I’ll admit that they sometimes cheap-out on certain components to save money on their lower end vehicles, but this has nothing to do with engineering. Now bring on the 5 cylinder Duc!

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  • Westward

    My feelings about Audi are more in line with “kostritzer”. I don’t think its overly bad to have them own Ducati, if anything, I would think the collector value of previous Ducatis would only be more…

    lol – alien spacecraft, that was a good one…

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  • Westward

    It also occurs to me, I wonder what this means for Ducati and their racing efforts in MotoGP and WBSK…

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  • paulus

    Unless anyone here has 180 million to cough up… we are stuck with whatever happens.
    Get on your bikes and enjoy the ride!

  • Halfie 30

    @kostritzer. Admitting that they “cheapen” things to lower cost is the very reason I hate them buying Ducati. Also Ducati was running fuel injected 851/888 while every one else was running carbed inline 4’s. Their racing pedigree is dominant since those bikes too. And they also have an engineering marvel called desmodromic valves. True engineering ingenuity. Audi nor VW can bolster such claims. They are not game changers in the car world like Ducati has been in the motorbike world. It’s a step backwards for Ducati.

  • kostritzer


    Desmodromic? Nsu(part of Audi) was using a very similar system in their cars in the late fifties. They also put the first rotary engined powered car in production in the sixties. Not to mention quattro, tdi, fsi, dsg, basically everything every manufacturer is copying now. They dominated world rally in the early eighties with quattro, as well as btcc(until it was banned), now they’re dominating sportscar endurance racing with a diesel! Not trying to turn this into a pissing contest, but the ONLY racing ducati has ever dominated is wsbk. Desmodromic is nothing new or advanced or else everyone would be using it. Besides that one unique thing, their bikes are pretty basic. Steel trellis frame? I like ducatis, but with the exception of the desmosedici and the panigale, they’re pretty archaic in design even compared to a 10 year old VFR800.

  • it’s about time you guys get your facts straight instead of spreading rumors across the Internet. You claim that Ducati and AMG Mercedes reportedly ended it’s relation last year, and that Ducati was flirting with other brands since that, but if that is the case, why was AMG Mercedes present at the 1199 Panigale Launch in Abu Dhabi last month?

  • Halfie 30

    @kostritzer. I’m not here to “argue” either. Most of the engineering you mentioned a one did not stick for VW. Ducati dominates WSBK because they make the finest “race bike with lights” you can buy. No one is rolling around on the street with a MotoGP bike (unless you count the Desmosedici, and other one of a kind engineering feet for Ducati). VW also now dominates world endurance because a certain Japanese factory bowed out. Any way. My point eventually those “cheap” fixes Audi and VW use to cut costs will trickle down to Ducati. It will be AMF Harley all over again.

  • kostritzer

    Well, VW owns them all. Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and they also share technology with Porsche. I wonder which Japanese brand you’re talking about with endurance racing, because before Audi was dominant it was Porsche going back to the 70s. Mazda had a short run of success, but Toyota and Nissan had their assess handed to them when they tried to compete, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an effort from Honda at Lemans. I think ducati will be fine under the vag umbrella, maybe they’ll even become as dominate in motogp as Honda and Yamaha with all of VWs money. Hopefully they’ll convince ducati to ditch the useless desmo system(the things only rev to 12 grand for Christ sake) and join the 20th century of valve spring technology.

  • Steveo

    I agree I work on Audi’s and VW all the time as well. I joke with customers that they are Hitlers last attack…

    They are ok cars but they try to fit into a upper style mold with cheaper parts. Here is my analogy. A VAG (volkswagen Audi Group) is a car that is trying to have the sophistication of a Benz/Bmw with the quality of a KIA> BTW I love Kia they are priced well and work well.

    Remember if you can only afford the cheapest new car on the market you prbably can’t afford it.

    And if you try to argue that VW/Audi makes high quality stuff they did in the 80s-90s but they have really lost sight of their market and since the 1.8T in the 2000 Jetta thereafter its all been garbage.

    Don’t believe it then research why they are giving away “careFree” maintenance. Its not because they are high quality its because the cars are so maintenance sensitive that they will fall apart in 50K miles and it gives VW an excuse not to warranty parts.

    I do not disagree that the overall stand point of the company to company partnership is better than AMG but on the same note I don’t see the gain for Audi??? Ducati will get a huge market share and a lot of possible cash. just my .02

  • Damo


    I don’t get the whole guilt by association thing either, but certain things we know to be fact.

    VW and Audi may make great looking high tech cars, but they are consistently at the top half of the poor reliability list in both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power and Associates every year. Ironically they are some of the more expensive cars on the road as well. Personally I only buy cars for reliability and practicality so maybe my vote counts for less. Cars are something I use when the bike is out of commission or I need to get groceries.

    That being said, people thought the sky was falling when the Piaggio scooter group bought aprilia in 2004 and look how great that turned out.

  • kostritzer

    I agree that the 2000 to 2005 Jettas were pretty bad cars, I wouldn’t buy one if you put a gun to my head. Since that generation, the overall quality has improved substantially. I agree with your analogy with this generation, but I also think it makes a big difference as to where the car was built. I have noticed that the German built cars tend to be “screwed together” better than their Mexican and Brazilian counterparts. For sure the quality could still use some improvement, but they are still very well engineered cars. I have noticed that most of the typical problems with VW and Audi also tend to be a lot cheaper to fix than their German rivals.

  • Westward

    I don’t know what all the complaint about high or low quality parts and who is better… I have family members with BMW and Mercedes, and both have regular appointments with the mechanic, and not for standard maintenance either.

    To me, the difference between BMW, Mercedes, and Audi are the cost of parts. If you want reliability get a Toyota, and not just any japanese car. If you want shinny prestige, pick your favourite german automobile…

    My biggest fear in this acquisition is how it will affect racing. They might just scrap Motogp all together if nothing improves soon.

  • kostritzer

    Audi has a lot of money. When they go racing, they spend a lot of money. They’re also masters of rule interpretation/bending. I think if they were to acquire Ducati, there’s a good possibility they’ll throw enough money at the Moto GP effort to be quite competitive.

  • FLABueller

    If you want to know what kind of damage Audi may due take a look at what they did for Lamborghini. Aventador anyone? They haven’t held them back at all or made the product any less badass.

  • TRL

    German management, italian workforce…what could possibly go wrong?!

  • BTB

    Kostritzer, we get it. You have an erection for German cars.

    If I want a German motorcycle, I’ll buy a BMW (yawn). Instead, I prefer an equally expensive Italian marque with some soul and “motorcycle racing” pedigree.

    It’s hard enough for a motorcycle company like BMW to purchase another motorcycle brand (i.e. Husqvarna) and get it right. Just imagine what will happen to Ducati when a car company tries to restructure and re-package our beloved Ducati’s.

  • kostritzer


    I think you missed my point actually. I was just trying to say that Audi is actually well known for their engineering advances, while halfie30 was stating the opposite.

    The question of whether Audi will suck the soul out of Ducati is a valid one I guess. It all depends on whether you believe a machine can have a soul.

    I think the whole debate over whether a machine has a soul or not is really about whether the engine sounds good to the person who rides it. I certainly felt my 84 Audi quattro had a soul with its warbling 5 cyinder and rusted out exhaust. As far as bikes are concerned, I love the sound of a V4 or a Triple, V-twins don’t really do it for me though I can see their appeal.

    Surely Audi is smart enough to know Ducati owners are pretty fanatical about their bikes to the point of accepting some of the (mostly fixed) reliability/ergonomic(maybe this is part of the soul?) issues compared with the clinically reliable (for the most part) Japanese brands.

  • Matt

    I think if it secures the future of an iconic motorcycle brand then this acquisition can only be a good thing. I’m not worried about Ducati losing its uniqueness nor it’s soul as VAG has probably strengthened the brand principles of both Bentley and Lamborghini under its ownership. Both brands have been able to leverage some of the VAG’s technologies in their cars (4WD in particular) whilst at the same time not losing any of the marques’ design cues nor heritage. Do Bentley stil make luxurious, fast GT cars in the grand tradition? Yes. do Lamborghini still make hard edge, gutsy performance cars? Yes. Are both companies now producing People’s Cars? Only if you’re rich enough to consider them so!
    Somehow I think Ducati will be under safe stewardship.

  • mxs

    Sky is falling … LOL

  • Halfie 30

    Let’s look at Piaggo buying Aprilia. That made sense. Aprilia are back back and doing well years later… Why? Because a company that understands how things work on two wheels bought Aprilia. Audi knows jack about two wheeled technology. When Aprilia tried to use “formula one” technology on their rs3 effort it failed horribly because we are talking about motorcycles, not cars. Kostritzer, it’s obvious you are a car guy. The fact that even if you like bikes, you don’t like v-twins makes your case for Audi’s technology a bit a bit null and void as that tech/engineering does nothing for Ducati on two wheels.

    If I ever see a VAG get past 150,000 I’ll let you know… LOL

  • kostritzer

    So its OK for a scooter company to buy a Motorcycle company, but not OK for a company like Audi with seemingly limitless resources both technical and monetarily to. Why, because they don’t know jack about two wheels? Harley Davidson bought MV and how did that turn out?

    BTW, Ducati had help with cylinder head designs by none other than Ferrari in the 90’s, last I checked they’re a car company that probably doesn’t know jack about 2 wheels either.

    I used to be a car guy when I was younger, now I give all my friends shit for dumping tons of money into building “race cars” when you can go out and buy a bike for a fraction of the cost and have (in my opinion) a lot more fun. I still think the technology coming out of a powerhouse like VAG is very impressive, and if you consider yourself a gearhead, not just a motorcycle guy, then it’s worth appreciating.

    But yeah, they’re hard to work on… Is that the car’s fault or the mechanics? Ever work on a Ford Powerstroke 6.0? Or any modern Nissan with a V6 in it? Which VAG product are you having such a hard time with? Maybe the W12 in an Audi A8?

    BTW, I’ve owned over 30 cars in my lifetime, I’d say half of them have been VW/Audi products, the other half Japanese. Every single one of my Audi’s had over 150,000 miles when I sold them, all on the original engine’s and transmission. In fact, my 84 4000 quattro had 245K on it when I sold it. Best car I’ve ever owned in regards to reliability and character(it was slow as shit) hands down. And I’ve owned quite a few Honda’s as well.

    I’ll admit that I’ve only ridden one Ducati, an 848 evo a couple of months ago for a day. While the bike was very impressive as far as acceleration and holding a line, it gave the impression that it would rattle itself to bits after about a year or so. I loved the chassis, but that engine while grunty was just so unrefined. My Daytona, built by a company who compared to Ducati has only been around in their current form for about 5 minutes, is so refined it almost seems Audi like…

    Ducati will thrive under Audi ownership. They will sell more bikes, and in turn have more money to go racing. If you really take a good look at the new Panigale, it has already changed from what all the hardcore Ducatisti have always gone apeshit over. No one seems to be complaining!

  • Jeighseauxn

    Being a Lamborghini technician I’ve seen nothing but incredible changes to the cars since vw/audi has owned the company. The vw group actually brought the cars to the 21st century with the gallardo and the new aventador. Don’t get me wrong lamborghinis have always been awesome but until the vw umbrella took over the cars were still using 70s technology even up until late. It’s been a pretty cool experience because you can see how the vw group has let Lamborghini stay their own vehicle without much influence with the exceptions of much needed improvements to the electronics and infotainment systems.

    I think it would be awesome to see the vw group take over Ducati. It’s not like theyre going to totally change the bike to something completely different than what they are. Theyre going to let the Ducati still have their independence and have them make the bikes the same way until they can find something to improve on.