Harley-Davidson Rumored To Be Interested In Buying Ducati
Legit rumor or fake news?
The internet rumor machine is exploding today after a report from Reuters indicated that Harley-Davidson has expressed interest in purchasing Ducati. The only source of this information is from anonymous Reuters sources.
We contacted the Motor Company and were awarded exactly what we expected: “Harley-Davidson does not comment on future speculations.” Our Ducati media rep has yet to return our calls.
Also in the Reuters report is another anonymous source stating that Goldman Sachs has been hired to negotiate the transaction, and that an offer for Ducati could be made as soon as next month.
It’s been nearly two months since it was revealed that Ducati might be on the block as a way to help parent company, Volkswagen/Audi, to pay off the billion-euro fines for its Dieselgate emissions debacle. Early potential suitors included various Chinese firms and, from India, Bajaj, Hero MotoCorp and even Royal Enfield. Also interested were several private equity funds, including Ducati’s old owners, InvestIndustrial.
Reuters’ sources indicate VW is hoping to sell Ducati for about 1.5 billion euros (nearly $1.7 billion USD), which would be a tidy profit from the $935 million price Audi paid for Ducati in 2012.
Some investors have reportedly balked at paying 15 times Ducati’s earnings (EBITDA) of around $100 million to purchase the legendary Italian company. Reuters’ sources say Hero and TVS Motor Company have backed away from any sort of deal, and BMW, Honda and Suzuki have also pulled out of consideration, according to, again, Reuters’ sources.
That leads us back to Harley-Davidson, which has had a recent history of making huge profits of selling bikes and t-shirts to millions of people who, generally speaking, are aging at a pace that will see many of them stepping out of the moto market over the next decade or so. Ducati’s reputation for performance and a youthful persona might be a way for the MoCo to remain relevant to a younger demographic.
That said, Harley’s purchase of MV Agusta in 2008 was money poorly spent for the Milwaukee manufacturer, as it eventually sold back the company to its previous owner, Claudio Castiglioni, for a song in 2010.
Could Harley again be interested in acquiring an iconic Italian sportbike manufacturer? Well, it could, but it might simply be a case of once burned, twice shy.