MILWAUKEE, WI – Will Harley-Davidson try to buy Ducati? The prospect has set the international business media abuzz.
Harley-Davidson “is lining up a takeover bid for Italian rival Ducati, potentially bringing together two of the most famous names in motorcycling in a deal that could be worth up to $ 1.67 billion,” Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources. These sources also reportedly told the news agency that Harley-Davidson has retained Goldman Sachs to work on the deal.
This wouldn’t be Harley’s first Italian job. The Motor Co. acquired MV Agusta in 2008 for $ 109 million and sold it back to the owners in 2010 for about four bucks. Back in 1960, Harley-Davidson bought 50 percent of Aermacchi and then purchased the other half in 1974 before selling the whole business to Cagiva in 1978.
Reuters reported in late April that Ducati may be put on the selling block by current owner Volkswagen, which is overhauling its vehicle properties in an attempt to recover from an annus horriblis in 2015-16 related to its “Dieselgate” emissions scandal.
Reuters also now reports that India’s Bajaj Auto “and several buyout funds” are also preparing bids for Ducati. “Ducati was on the wish list of private equity funds KKR, Bain Capital and Permira, which are all working on the deal, said the sources who declined to be identified as the process is private,” according to Reuters reporter Pamela Barbaglia, who is based in London.
The Reuters story was immediately picked up by industry and business press, including Fox News, CNBC, Fortune magazine, Maxim and the Milwaukee Business Journal. Plus, it swept across international business media: “Harley-Davidson pronta a strappare Ducati ad Audi,” “Harley-Davidson pujará por hacerse con Ducati,” “US-Motorradbauer wirft Auge auf Ducati.”
The Business Journal contacted The Motor Co. and received his response from Harley spokesperson Katie Whitmore: “We don’t comment on marketplace rumors.”