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Motorcycle racing is a profitable business, it turns out. The leading UK financial paper Financial Times reported yesterday that Bridgepoint Capital, the private equity firm that owns Dorna, among many other assets, has hit upon a relatively novel way of paying out investors, by transferring the roughly 40% of Dorna that it owns between one Bridgepoint fund and another. 

The proposed sale is a result of a review carried out by merchant bankers Lazard at the end of last year, with the aim of fixing a value and finding potential buyers. According to the FT, several private equity firms expressed an interesting in buying Bridgepoint’s stake, including former owners CVC. 

Here is some interesting automotive news for you that has bearing over our two-wheeled world, as CNN is reporting that more Americans are behind on their car loans than ever before.

The news accounts for two trends that we are seeing in the United States. One, the decline of automobile ownership; and two, the rising debt load amongst citizens, especially millennial buyers.

What this translates into the car world – namely that buyers are increasingly defaulting on their auto loans – likely bears the same reality in the motorcycle industry, since so many motorbikes are bought through financed payment schemes.

 Today’s headline is all about Moody’s upgrading Piaggio’s credit rating to “Ba3” – up from its previous “B1” rating.

I understand that financial credit rating systems aren’t exactly your typical fare on a motorcycle news site, so stay with me here for a minute.

The basic gist is that moving from a B1 rating to a Ba3 rating takes Piaggio beyond the threshold of being “highly speculative” investment opportunity to “non-investment grade” business in the eyes of investors.

It surprising to us that there is so little investment in technologies and business in the two-wheeled space by the established players.

Maybe it is the conservative nature of the motorcycle industry, or maybe it is because motorcycle companies are just miserably bad at corporate development. Whatever the reason may be, it makes today’s headline an intriguing one.

This is because Yamaha Motor Corp. in Japan has just set aside $100 million to invest in technologies and business startups, over the next 10 years. 

MV Agusta has raised an additional €40 million in funding, the Italian firm reports, bringing its total in fundraising to €50 million over the last 12 months, as the company moves past its previous financial troubles.

With the capital increase comes a change in the leadership structure at MV Agusta, with Giovanni Castiglioni continuing as the company’s President, while investor Timur Sardarov takes on the role of the company’s new CEO and Chairman of the Board.

This arrangement should mean that Castiglioni will focus on the day-to-day business of MV Agusta and its product lineup, while  Sardarov will mind the company’s financial future and big-picture strategy, including the company’s new business plan.

Another sales quarter, and another report of dwindling sales from Harley-Davidson. The details of the news are the same as well, as sales in the United States continue to disappear, while sales abroad improve modestly.

As such, Harley-Davidson is reporting a 13.3% sales drop on motorcycle retail sales in the United States (36,220 units), with international sales up 2.6% (23,006 units), both compared to Q3 2017. This means that Harley-Davidson’s total sales are down 7.8% for Q3 2018, with 59,226 units sold.

Comparatively, the relative market for Harley-Davidson (bikes 601cc or more in displacement) were down in sales for Q3 2018, to the tune of 9.8% – though we should note that the Bar & Shield brand accounts for roughly half of this relevant market.

Bad news from San Francisco today, as we learn that Alta Motors has ceased business operations, effective immediately, sending the company’s staff home as the electric motorcycle manufacturer looks for future funding.

Talking to an anonymous source, Asphalt & Rubber has been told that Alta Motors is in the midst of a strategic wind down, as it looks for an outside acquisition or investment.

More doom and gloom for the motorcycle industry, as Ducati Motor Holdings sales are slumping for the 2018 model year. Selling 32,250 motorcycles so far this year, the Italian brand is short 7.4% the volume it sold this time last year.

To translate unit sales into fiat currency, the 32,250 motorcycles sold equals €448 million in revenue going into Audi’s coffers. Of note, Ducati’s revenue contribution to Audi AG accounts for 1.4% of the automaker’s total revenue.

For the second quarter of this year, Ducati sales were down 8.9% compared to Q2 2017. This means that 20,319 Ducati motorcycles were sold in Q2 2018, compared to the 22,300 sold in Q2 2017.

After a dismal 2017, there was some hope at the start of 2018 that the US motorcycle industry would begin an upward climb. The industry seemed enthused and optimistic, though no one could pinpoint why they felt that way during our talks with executives and insiders.

Now, it seems that positive energy was simply that…nothing tangible, as the first results from Q1 2018 are beginning to trickle out of OEM headquarters. First up, Harley-Davidson.

Releasing its Q1 2018 report, Harley-Davidson is reporting a global decrease in sales to the tune of a 7.2% drop compared to its 2017 figures, which breaks down into a 12% drop for the US market, with the international market flat at 0.2% in positive growth.

Net income is down too for the Bar & Shield brand, with net income recorded at $174.8 million (on a revenue of $1.54 billion), which is down 6.2% when you compare it to the $186.4 million in net income from Q1 2017 (made from $1.50 billion in revenue).

The only silver lining for Harley-Davidson in this news is that the American brand isn’t doing as poorly as the US motorcycle market overall, which was down 11.1% in Q1 2018, for the over 600cc segments.

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.