Monday 19 March 2012 | By: Jeremy Korzeniewski @ autoblog.com | Picture by autoblog.com
It’s no secret that Ducati, without question the most famous of all Italian motorcycle manufacturers, is looking for a new owner. It’s also a well-known fact that Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piëch has long been interested in adding Ducati to the VW Group’s already massive stable of brands.
Here’s where things get a bit muddy, though. According to a rather credible sounding report from CAR Magazine in the UK, the number one suitor for the Ducati brand is, not Volkswagen, but Audi. Of course, Audi is owned by VW, so it could be argued that Ducati would still be under the VW umbrella, but until now, Audi has never been mentioned as a potential buyer.
If rumors are correct, Ducati is hoping for a total purchase price of 850 million euros, or about 1.1 billion dollars – but that figure includes 800 million euros of debt, meaning the actual sale price of the brand itself would be just $65 million.
There are some intriguing synergies between Audi and Ducati that bear investigation. For starters, Audi has a bit of motorcycle heritage already with its former NSU and DKW brands. Second, Ducati has, in the past, positioned itself as the two-wheeled equivalent to Audi, whatever that means. And finally, having Ducati as its two-wheeled partner would give Audi yet another talking point in its longstanding rivalry with BMW.
Audi isn’t the only serious suitor for Ducati. There’s talk of potential ownership by India’s Mahindra and Germany’s Mercedes-Benz, who’s own AMG performance division is a strategic marketing partner with Ducati as it is. Audi parent Volkswagen, too, is said to be in the running for a bid to own the famed Italian motorcycle marque.
Muddy waters, indeed. In any case, you can be sure that we’ll keep you up to date with any more information on Ducati’s future ownership as time goes on.