Audi: First Dibs on Buying Ducati?

Ducati Sale News

Since Ducati was reported up for sale in February, many companies have been listed as possibly buyers, including BMW, the Indian motorcycle group Mahindra, and most recently India’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, Hero MotoCorp.

And now, the respected UK publication, Car Magazine, is reporting that one of the Volkswagen Group’s largest brands, Audi, will have first dibs to purchase Ducati from its Milan-based private-equity owner, Investindustrial.

Car Magazine reports that Audi "has struck an exclusive deal giving it first rights to buy Italian superbike manufacturer Ducati." The German company reportedly has until mid-April, when the deal will "likely" be finalized.

Various reports also allege that Ducati carries a debt of around $1.25 billion. Audi is expected to pay around $78 million for the iconic Italian motorcycle company, and take on the rest of the debt load.

The idea of Audi buying Ducati derives from "Project Eagle," which was designed Ferdinand Piech of the Volkswagen Group. The idea behind "Project Eagle" is for the German Volkswagen Group to buy a distinguished motorcycle company, and for a while there were talks of reviving the former German motorcycle company Horex, which manufactured singles and twins from 1936 – 1956.

But due to the recent partnership between Ducati and the German-based Mercedes-Benz (think AMG Ducati Diavel), a rival to the Volkswagen Group, it appears there’s much more incentive at play to purchase Ducati.

Currently, the Volkswagen Group is comprised of nine brands from seven European countries: Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, Skoda, Scania and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

Many of these companies carry endless clout, and if Ducati is added, the VW Group will have further bragging rights.

The Ducati Sale – Other News

Earlier this month, Hero MotoCorp was allegedly talking with bankers for a "potential acquisition" of Ducati. This news arrives after Honda separated from Hero MotoCorp earlier this year, following a 26-year partnership.

During the Honda years, Hero MotoCorp’s motorcycles were basic, lacking the high-performance and technology used on Ducati motorcycles such as the 1199 Panigale superbike. But nothing further has been released about the possible acquisition.

Other names of potential buyers were BMW, Mahindra and even the American-brand Harley-Davidson (immediately doubted due to its buying/selling actions with another popular Italian brand, MV Agusta).

All this sale news arrived after Ducati reported record-breaking sales numbers, saying 2011 sales were up 43-percent over 2010, attributing much of the positivity to the Multistrada and Diavel.

Ducati North America also recently announced the launch of a new retail identity initiative aimed at enhancing the Ducati customer experience. As part of this, the showrooms feature a unique decor, similar to what one would see when entering an Audi dealership…