Rumors and reports continue to swirl around Ducati, as the Italian manufacturer is linked to one brand or another for a potential divestiture from the Volkswagen Group. And now, the latest name being thrown into the hat is none other than iconic American brand Harley-Davidson.
In a report by Reuters, Harley-Davidson is linked to buying Ducati by unnamed sources, with a purchase price that is pegged around €1.5 billion, a number that has been put together by the bean-counting minds at Goldman Sachs.
Volkswagen is said to be taking bids on Ducati this July, which means the fate of the Italian motorcycle brand could be decided by the end of this year.
Investment banking firm Evercore is said to be behind the Ducati divestiture, as it helps Volkswagen navigate the financial side of its emissions scandal from 2015.
According to Reuters, a number of entities are interested in Ducati, and expected to submit bids in July, which includes private equity firms KKR, Bain Capital, and Permira.
Former Ducati-owner Investindustrial is also said to be in the mix, along with just about any two-wheeled brand that the motorcycle industry can link to the story.
For Harley-Davidson, there does seem to be some precedent, as the Bar & Shield brand has already shown an appetite for Italian motorcycle brands, with its brief ownership of the MV Agusta motorcycle company.
The Great Recession brought an end to Harley-Davidson’s ownership of MV Agusta, and now in a new economic situation, the American manufacturer might once again be looking to grow through acquisition.
With a €1.5 billion valuation, VW is valuing Ducati with a 15x earnings multiple (EBITDA), with Ducati said to take home about €100 million a year on its roughly ~€900 million in revenue. It is of note that Volkswagen Group bought Ducati for €860 million.
Nearly doubling in value since since it was brought into the VW family, a €1.5 billion valuation is a steep asking price, and it will be interesting to see what firms bite on such a large earnings multiple. The price tag is said to have already scared off brands like Hero MotoCorp, TVS Motor Company, and Royal Enfield.
According to Reuters, BMW Motorrad, Honda, and Suzuki have also passed on submitting a bid on Ducati, which isn’t too surprising, but also of note.