Audi-Ducati Deal to Materialize April 18?

Ducati Sale News

Various reports have surfaced, including one from the respected UK-based news source Reuters, stating that Audi may soon announce its plans to acquire Ducati from its Milan-based private-equity owner, Investindustrial.

Reports say the announcement may arrive as early as April 18, just before Audi’s parent company, Europe’s largest car manufacturer Volkswagen, has its annual shareholder meeting (April 19).

Last month, the UK publication Car Magazine reported that Audi "has struck an exclusive deal giving it first rights to buy Italian superbike manufacturer Ducati." Investindustrial allegedly gave Audi until Sunday, April 15, to negotiate. After that date, Investindustrial would begin talking to other interested buyers.

Various reports also allege that Ducati carries a debt of around $1 billion. Audi is expected to pay around $65 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 by 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.

Then there’s also Audi’s rival BMW, which receives much praise in the superbike market with its 193-horsepower BMW S1000RR. If Audi owned Ducati, the 1199 Panigale vs. S1000RR rivalry would be even stronger.

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.

Representatives at Investindustrial, Audi and Volkswagen denied comment.

Other Ducati Sales News:

Earlier in March, Hero MotoCorp was allegedly talking with bankers about a "potential acquisition" of Ducati. This news arrived after Honda separated from Hero MotoCorp earlier this year, following a 26-year partnership. But nothing further surfaced.

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 positive results on the success of 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…