It has been a busy month since our inaugural edition of “What We’re Reading” column, so there is plenty to catch-up on reading-wise. Again, our reading list spans stories that go between the motorcycle industry and also non-endemic media outlets.
This edition focuses heavily on the racing world, and in it we get a glimpse into the world of the MotoGP Championship, from the riders’ perspective. We also see what’s happening in the automotive industry, as well as the media landscape as a whole.
Many of our stories can be brought back to the motorcycle industry, as our industry faces analogous problems to other sectors. Of course, some of the pieces made our list simply because I thought they were interesting and thought-provoking.
Part clearinghouse for stories that we will never get our full attention, and part book club for our loyal readers who are doing their best to survive the work day, say hello to the next installment of the “What We’re Reading” column series.
The Motorsport Aftermarket Group (MAG) announced that it has successfully concluded its Chapter 11 proceedings, after the bankruptcy court accepted the company’s plan for reorganization and debt recapitalization.
As a result of the bankruptcy process, MAG is under new ownership, with creditors Monomoy Capital Partners, BlueMountain Capital, and Contrarian Partners now in control of the massive motorcycle parts, apparel, and commerce conglomerate.
For those who don’t recall, MAG entered Chapter 11 back in November 2017, with the debts of the company spreading out through the group’s many owned brands.
The Motorsport Aftermarket Group (MAG) is not a name that motorcycle enthusiasts are usually familiar with, but the family of brands that the company owns certainly is: Performance Machine wheels, Roland Sands Design, Renthal handlebars, Vance & Hines exhausts, Tucker Rocky, J&P Cycles, etc. The network of brands has been struggling over the recent years though, and today we learn that many of them will be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while the overarching MAG Group business restructures its debt and finds new ownership. While this is not the sexiest news story to happen in the motorcycle industry this year, it is certainly one of the most important and complicated. As such, we will try to break it down in a digestible way for you.
According to several reports in the financial sector, the investors behind Dorna Sports S.L. are readying themselves for another sizable payout from the media rights holder for the MotoGP and WorldSBK Championships. Using a bit of financial finesse, the move would see Bridgepoint Capital and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) – the two major investors in Dorna Sports – taking roughly €889 million off the books of the Spanish media company, according to Reuters. As such, today’s news would make this the third time that Bridgepoint and the CPPIB have raided the piggy bank for motorcycling’s premier racing series, having done similar deals in 2011 (€420 million) and 2014 (€715 million).
The future of MV Agusta has hinged on a crucial court decision for the past five months now – one that would allow the Italian motorcycle brand to restructure its debt, thus reducing its financial liabilities and freeing up a greater portion of its cash flow for continued production. News comes today from Varese, Italy that a local court has approved MV Agusta’s new business plan, and allowed the motorcycle manufacturer to restructure its debts with creditors and suppliers. This is positive news for MV Agusta, and it sets in motion a number of possibilities for the Italian brand, namely closing its investment deal with Black Ocean, an Anglo-Russian private equity firm.
MV Agusta has unveiled in court its plan to get back to financial stability, after seeing cash flow issues reaching a zenith in March 2016. The plan is exactly as it has been previously advertised by MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni: MV Agusta will reduce its workforce, produce fewer machines, focus on high-margin models, and seek a freeze on its debts to creditors and suppliers. Whether the Varesini court will accept this plan remains to be seen, it will also require some buy-in from MV Agusta’s creditor and suppliers, who are owed €50 million from MV Agusta. Right now, MV Agusta is working with roughly 200 employees at its Varese factory. Those remaining employees will be focusing their attention on MV Agusta’s more profitable models, namely the company’s four-cylinder platform.
Despite what you may have read, MV Agusta isn’t declaring protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the United States Code. But, we can understand the confusion. Just so we are clear, by definition Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings are a figment of American law. Since MV Agusta is an Italian company, it would be fundamentally wrong to say that MV Agusta Motor S.p.A. was seeking a protection under the US Code that pertains to bankruptcy. The branch of MV Agusta that would be able to file for Chapter 11 would be MV Agusta USA, but the US subsidiary is not embroiled in MV Agusta Motor’s financial troubles, which makes the use of the term incredibly inaccurate.
The 2011 MotoGP Championship heads to Jerez, Spain this week, as the premier class gets ready for its second race of the season. 2011 so far has been a tough year for motorcycle tracks. First there was concern over whether Donington Park would get FIM homologation in time for World Superbike’s visit (spoiler alert: they did).
Then there was concern over New Jersey Motorsports Park, which filed for Chapter 11 protection, as the east coast venue sorts itself out financially with its creditors. MotoGP hasn’t been immune to this issues as well, as both Brno and Jerez have seen some concern of their future outlook.
While Brno is looking for help from the national government to make the dollars and cents make sense, Jerez was in a similar predicament except that the track has missed its last loan payment, and had its assets frozen my a local magistrate. Concerns over Jerez can now be put to ease though as the Andalusian State Government has announced that it will underwrite the popular Spanish racing venue through 2016.
Harley-Davidson filed papers today with the SEC disclosing that the company has bought back $297 million in papers (essentially paying off a loan) from Davis Selected Advisers, L.P to the tune of $380.8 million. Taking the loan amount at 15% interest, Harley-Davidson borrowed roughly $600 million from Davis Select and Warren Buffett ($300 million each, despite what other blogs seem to think) back in February of 2009. This announcement marks the first step Harley-Davidson has taken in repaying that debt, and with the added $100 million in interest payments, it’s easy to understand why.