Got an extra $1.34 billion dollars in your checking account? Already have your own 400-foot carbon fiber sailboat and put a down payment on your moon-base condo? Why not buy a certain Italian motorcycle manufacturer? According to the Financial Times, the 86-year-old company is for sale, just six years after its purchase by private equity group Investindustrial.
Investindustrial’s Chairman Andrea Bonomi told the Times “Ducati is now a perfect company but the further growth it requires needs the support of a world-class industrial partner…this year, we will work towards that partner.” In 2011, the group looked into taking the company public, but the story posits selling it to a rival manufacturer or automotive group would be the “more likely way to internationalize the brand further.” Is “internationalize” another way of saying “we can’t raise a billion Euros with an IPO?” Whatever it means, Bonomi told the Times he expects his family-owned group to realize three times its investment in the company.
So who has that kind of dough? Various sources report Volkswagen would like to enter the motorcycle market, Indian industrial giant Mahindra may prick up its ears, and of course BMW is always a suspect in this kind of thing, although BMW firmly stated it isn’t interested in buying other brands when the Italian financial newspaper Il Solo 24 Ore asked. We can also rule out Harley-Davidson. Bonomi said a “handful” of industrial groups in Asia, Europe and the U.S. were interested, but he wouldn’t name names.
Would it be a good investment? According to Ducati and Bonomi, of course. It has very low debt for this kind of company—just 1.7 times it earnings of 480 million Euros a year—has been experiencing sales growth in a global recession, and enjoys 9 percent of the world sportbike market (I couldn’t confirm those numbers, or get an explanation of what Ducati meant by sportbikes; I assume that means sportbikes over 600cc). I wouldn’t be surprised if a large Chinese or Indian company snapped it up, but we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for the storied brand.