By Arno Schuetze and Massimo Gaia
FRANKFURT/MILAN, Reuters | Wednesday 11 April 2012 11:08am BST
(Reuters) – Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) luxury car division Audi (NSUG.DE) plans to announce the acquisition of Ducati next week, having completed a due diligence assessment of the Italian motorcycle maker, two people familiar with the matter said.
Audi encountered no major stumbling blocks when checking Ducati’s books, the people said on Wednesday. The purchase could be announced as early as April 18, the day before VW’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Hamburg.
One of the sources said that Ducati’s main shareholder, Italian buyout firm Investindustrial, agreed to talk with Audi exclusively. Volkswagen, Audi and Investindustrial declined to comment.
A successful deal would fuel Audi’s long-standing rivalry with Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMWG.DE) in superbikes, and add expertise in high-revving light engines to VW’s engineering portfolio, which ranges from cars and heavy trucks to ship engines.
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera also reported on Wednesday that an accord between Ducati and Audi was …