Two of the great brands in motorcycling may be getting together. Harley-Davidson is preparing to buy Ducati, which has been put up for sale by its owners Volkswagen, according to news agency Reuters.
The iconic Italian brand, famous for its racing successes and still in contention for both world championships, has been given a price tag of £1.3bn and is attracting interest from a number of other bidders including Indian and private investors such as KKR.
That figure is, however, almost twice what VW paid when acquired from its Italian owners Investindustrial some years ago and is regarded as somewhat steep by some who have already said no.
Harley has suffered recently from falling sales, in company with other big bike manufacturers, and will see an acquisition as a way back to growth with a specialist manufacturer whose name is just as big as its own but occupying a completely different but rather more sexy niche.
However, its acquisition of MV Agusta some ten years ago ended in tears and the relationship with Buell was not exactly successful.
Ducati reported revenues of £550m last year with pre-tax profits said to be about £90m. Its sale is a result of VW slimming down its operation following an emmissions scandal which hit the German car maker hard.