Is Harley-Davidson going to take control of Ducati?

Reuters UK sources claim Harley has ambitions to take control of Ducati

Ducati HQ

THEY'RE TWO manufacturers operating at very opposite ends of the motorcycle spectrum, but according to Reuters, Harley-Davidson is in the running to buy Ducati and is lining up a bid to take over the Italian marque, which is currently controlled by Audi, part of the Volkswagen group.

Reuters’s unnamed sources say that Harley is preparing a takeover bid for Ducati, which is said to be offered for sale by Volkswagen as it scale back its operations in the wake of the 2015 diesel emissions scandal.

According to Reuters, Harley has called in Goldman Sachs to help with the deal, while Audi is working on its side of the sale with investment bank Evercore.

Ducati is said to be accepting bids from July.

According to Reuters’s sources, Volkswagen is looking to raise in the region of €1.5 billion from the sale of Ducati - nearly double the €860 million Audi paid for Ducati back in 2012. That’s a lot of money, – enough to dissuade India’s TVS and Hero MotoCorp from submitting a bid, although several private equity firms are said to be compiling bids.

So is a Harley takeover likely? With Harley’s falling revenue, sales and profits amid its struggling domestic performance, we’re not convinced.

As far as timescale is concerned, it’s unclear and Ducati’s future might not be decided by the time this year’s annual EICMA show rolls round in November.