Will Volkswagen Acquire Ducati?

Ferdinand Piech, current chairman of Volkswagen and Ferdinand Porsche’s grandson, has long lusted after motorcycle manufacturer Ducati, and his dreams may be coming true rather soon, maybe by April 19, the date of Volkswagen’s annual shareholders meeting.

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According to sources, Audi, a Volkswagen unit, is in negotiations with Ducati’s private equity owner, Investindustrial, to buy the Italian motorbike maker. Due diligence is reportedly in progress and a decision on the acquisition could be made by mid-April, said sources.

There have been loud enough hints in the past about the deal, with the most recent made by VW chief Martin Winterkorn at the company’s annual earnings conference: “I like everything that’s red,” in an oblique reference to the prominent and bright red fuel tanks sported by Ducati motorbikes. “One should never say no if an interesting opportunity arises, but we’re big enough,” he added.

And the bride may be willing, judging by Investindustrial’s comment last month that it was keen that Ducati find a “world class industrial partner.”

The deal would be technologically beneficial to VW because high speed motorbike engine know-how could be instrumental in designing more fuel-efficient products for its vast battery of products that straddle cars, heavy trucks, and ship engines. In Piech’s words, “A 1 litre engine can produce 200 horsepower. Small engines are also lower from the point of view of fuel consumption. We can learn something here.”

Piech owns a Ducati himself — Volkswagen may soon own the company that makes it.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Capel at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com