Industry

Official: Audi buys Ducati

Or perhaps that should be Ducaudi now?

AUDI has officially confirmed that it has bought Ducati from its previous owners InvestIndustrial.

Neither company has mentioned any figures, but the sale is thought to have set Audi back some 860 million Euros and sees the German firm, itself a subsidiary of Volkswagen, taking on Ducati's debts, believed to be in the region of 200 million Euros.

The VW group already comprises a multitude of brands; Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti, MAN, Scania and Lamborghini as well as defunct brands like Auto Union, Horch, NSU, DKW and Wanderer. The firm is also in the process of absorbing Porsche and owns design and coachbuilding firms Karmann and Italdesign.

The chairman of VW's supervisory board, Ferdinand Piech, is the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche and has an unparalleled career in the motor industry. He headed the development of the Porsche 917 racer, pioneered the Quattro four-wheel-drive system for Audi and under his supervision VW has expanded to become one of the world's most valuable companies. His pet projects have included the Bugatti Veyron, the world's fastest production car, and he's a long standing bike nut, still riding Ducatis despite being 75 years old.

In 1985, under Piech, VW came close to buying Ducati, and Piech has since admitted regretting missing out on getting his hands on the firm. Now he's finally achieved it.

Will Ducati thrive under Audi? The signs are good. VW has revitalised Lamborghini and proved with Bugatti that it has no fear of spending a fortune to create the very best 'halo' products even if it stands little or no chance of recouping the costs. For a firm with more than eight billion Euros profit per year, the cost of buying Ducati is minimal and there's relatively little pressure to make fast returns on that investment – instead we're likely to see a long term strategy of growth.

Here's the official statement from Audi:

AUDI AG acquires sports motorcycle manufacturer Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A.

Chairman Rupert Stadler: “As a sporty, global premium brand, Ducati is an excellent fit for Audi.”

Third pillar for AUDI AG in Italy

Ducati a leading player in engine technology and lightweight construction

Ingolstadt/Bologna, April 18, 2012 – AUDI AG is acquiring from Investindustrial Group the tradition-steeped Italian sports motorcycle manufacturer Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A., which has its registered office in Bologna. The transaction will be completed as quickly as possible once authorized by the competition authorities. The Supervisory Boards of AUDI AG and Volkswagen AG approved the acquisition today in Hamburg. Ducati is known worldwide as a leading brand in motorcycle manufacture, with outstanding expertise in engine development and lightweight construction.

Alongside the traditional Italian brands Lamborghini and Italdesign, Ducati is now a third pillar for AUDI AG in Northern Italy. Another building block in the Company’s growth strategy thus falls into place. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, declared: “Ducati is known worldwide as a premium brand among motorcycle manufacturers and has a long tradition of building sporty motorcycles. It has great expertise in high-performance engines and lightweight construction, and is one of the world’s most profitable motorcycle manufacturers. That makes Ducati an excellent fit for Audi.” The progressive control systems and special combustion chamber process of Ducati engines, their resulting sporty character, and Ducati’s extensive know-how in lightweight construction thus offer great potential for AUDI AG and the Volkswagen Group.

Peter Mosch, Chairman of the General Works Council of AUDI AG, explains that the employee representatives of AUDI AG support the Company’s sustainable, codetermined growth strategy. “We must use the opportunities offered by globalization for Audi – and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Everyone at Audi is looking forward to working with our new colleagues from Ducati,” commented Mosch.

Ducati is a globally active company and has manufacturing operations at its headquarters in Bologna and at its own factory in Thailand. It maintains a series of importer companies in strategic markets. Experts predict that the motorcycle market will enjoy strong growth over the next few years, especially in Asia. In 2011, Ducati sold around 42,000 motorcycles and generated revenue of some €480 million, employing around 1,100 people.

The company was founded by Adriano and Marcello Ducati in Bologna in 1926. Known originally as Società Scientifica Radiobrevetti Ducati, it initially built parts for radios. It ventured into the manufacture of motorcycles in 1949.

Ducati has been actively involved in motorcycle racing for many decades through its racing division Ducati Corse. Its racing activities are currently focused on the Ducati official factory team in the MotoGP class of the Motorcycle World Championship and in the Superbike World Championship, supporting competitive private teams. Ducati won the manufacturers’ championship in this latter class 17 times in 21 championships and the pilots’ 14 times.

And the statement from InvestIndustrial:

April 18, 2012 - International Motorcycles S.p.A, a subsidiary of the Investindustrial Group (“Investindustrial”), has today agreed to the sale of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A (“Ducati”) to Audi AG, part of the Volkswagen Group. The acquisition is subject to antitrust clearance.

Ducati, founded in 1926 and based in Borgo Panigale (Italy), is a leading motorcycles designer and manufacturer which boasts a rich racing heritage in the MotoGP World Championship and the Superbike World Championship.

In 2011, Ducati sold 42,200 units, resulting in an 11% global market share, and generated revenues of €480 million at the best-in-class profitability.

Since the acquisition by Investindustrial in 2006, Ducati has been turned around with great success into one of the best and most profitable motorcycle brands in the world. The company successfully launched a globalisation process which led the company to open a factory in Thailand in 2011 and to expand into new fast growing markets, such as Brazil, China and India. As of today, 80% of Ducati's sales come from foreign markets and at the end of 2011 the Group recorded the highest turnover and EBITDA in its history.

The creation of industrial value is demonstrated by strong growth across the company: under Investindustrial’s ownership, Ducati's revenues grew from €305 million in 2006 to €480 million in 2011, EBITDA rose from €27 million in 2006 to €94 million in 2011 and resulted in positive EBIT of €51 million from €5 million in the year of the acquisition. The number of employees increased from 1,043 in 2006 to 1,135 in 2011.

In recent years, under the guidance of the management team, led by CEO Gabriele Del Torchio, Ducati has also developed the most exciting and up-to-date product range in its history by launching 17 new models including the Multistrada 1200 in 2010, the Diavel in 2011 and more recently the Panigale superbike. These achievements have contributed to a significant increase in motorcycle sales, rising from 35,300 in 2006 to 42,200 at the end of 2011.

Ducati also achieved great success in the world of racing: in Super Bike, Ducati won 4 Riders World titles (2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011) and 3 Constructors World titles (2006, 2008 and 2011) and a total of 68 wins. In MotoGP, Ducati won 28 races, a Riders World title and a Constructors World title in 2007.

Andrea C. Bonomi, Chairman of Investindustrial commented:

“Ducati has thrived with us as a result of the intensive industrial turnaround and the commercial push into new, fast-growing markets. We are convinced that the company will continue to provide a bright and rewarding future to its customers and employees in the very capable hands of Audi. We believe that Audi is the best partner to continue the globalisation process that has already been successfully initiated.

The management team, led by Gabriele Del Torchio, and the Ducati's skilled and passionate workforce have been a key element in turning the company into a global brand with some of the most exciting motorcycle models currently on the market. I am convinced Audi will be a responsible new owner, preserving the Italian workforce’s technology skills for a bright future for the Company. Ducati has a loyal and growing customer base, which will be well looked after thanks to Audi and Volkswagen Group’s global presence and engineering excellence.

This transaction is the second purchase in only a few months of an Investindustrial group company by a strategic buyer, the other being the sale of the leading cladding and architectural envelope group Permasteelisa to JS Group of Japan.”

Audi’s decision to acquire Ducati confirms the effectiveness of Investindustrial group’s strategy of investing in Italy, which is home to many quality companies. These companies are poised to develop into globally-operating and high-quality brands if properly guided and nurtured.

Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan, a leading Canadian investor and BS Investimenti, also sold their stakes in Ducati to Audi AG.

Studio Chiomenti advised the seller on legal matters.

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