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[Updated] Audi Acquires Ducati Pending Government Approvals

Update – The story immediately below from yesterday is accurate, but the approval has now been consummated and the deal is official (Gabe’s comment below contains a press release — see our press release section for the full text).  Here is yesterday’s story.

The massive Volkswagen group, through its luxury car subsidiary Audi, will announce acquisition of control of Ducati through purchase of the shares held by Investindustrial.  The announcement is expected tomorrow evening in Germany following a meeting of the supervisory boards of Audi and Volkswagen to finalize approval of the deal.   Tomorrow’s approval is considered a mere formality given the joint control of Volkswagen and Audi.  Both Reuters and the New York Times have independently verified that the controlling shares will be acquired for approximately $1.12 billion.  Here is a link to the New York Times story posted a few hours ago on the web.

Volkswagen has a history of acquiring luxury automobile brands, supporting their development, and allowing them to retain their unique identities and attributes.  Through its treatment of Bentley and Bugatti, for example, Volkswagen has shown a pattern where it would share engineering and technology with Ducati, and support new product development without damaging its brand DNA.  Therefore, don’t expect Volkswagen to change the character of Ducati.  It will remain a luxury brand, but continue to offer entry level value through its Monster line, for instance.  Ducati will remain Ducati, only much, much stronger.

34 Comments

  1. AFW says:

    Future Ducati owners… meet Malfunction lights and tow trucks.

  2. monsterduc1000 says:

    Don’t forget Audi owns Lamborghini as well.

  3. Ian Danby says:

    Perhaps a relaunch of N.S.U. motorcycles is in the offing. It is part of the same goup is it not. But perhaps not..

    • johnny ro says:

      I have as my screen saver an NSU 125 image. I would love to see NSU be revived after 60 years.

  4. Bob Hall says:

    Audi & VW to throw in a Ducati with every car sold in May!

  5. Snake says:

    I know what the press release and the financial media is saying “Audi buys Ducati”. But that’s impossible, as Audi is 99.55% owned by VW AG. So “VW” is buying Ducati and simply giving “Audi” the “branding credit” via the press release.

    Can you please correct your headline to read the REALITY of the financial situation, “VW buys Ducati”, and specify the simple Audi accrediation in the story text?

    Thank you.

    • ilikefood says:

      Even though Audi is owned by VAG, Audi is most likely still its own company, with its own board of directors, own balance sheet, and own decision-making power, separate from VAG’s. If the leadership of Audi made the decision to buy Ducati, it’s correct to say that Audi bought Ducati, not VAG.

  6. Gabe says:

    Breaking News From Ducati NA’s Media Relations Department:

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

    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.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “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.”

      boy, they really are desperate to sell this to the shareholders aren’t they…!?!? :) LOL

  7. Lenny says:

    Gee, I hope they come with a 2-up Luxury Touring version of the Pignale’

  8. Vrooom says:

    Ducati has a certain cache’ but I wouldn’t call them a luxury brand. Their bikes aren’t really any more expensive than the competition, though they usually have upscale versions of their product going for $30K or so, there’s also usually a run of the mill version for $13-15K (certainly Monsters can other air cooled models are less).
    So far my ST4s has been very reliable, only needing a wearable items in 45K miles. The valve adjustment is a bit time consuming, that’s the main draw back for me.

    • mickey says:

      So far my ST4s has been very reliable, only needing a wearable items in 45K miles.

      I wish we could say the same for my sons ’09 696 Monster. An electrical problem, seemingly unfixable oil leaks, unfixable squealing rear brakes,a transmission that locked up, all in the first 8000 miles requiring multiple two hundred-mile trailering jobs back to the dealership. He hasn’t even gotten to the valve adjustment/belt replacement yet. We lovingly call it his Italian Harley. If it hadn’t been a wedding gift from his fiance’, I’m sure it would have been sold to some other Ducatista already.

      I don’t think VW or Audi owning Ducati will make one bit of difference to the average rider. Prpbably the same guys will still be running Ducati, just a change in corporate stuff.

  9. FallDownGoBoom says:

    I hope it works out better than the Adolf/Benito arrangement.

  10. Marc says:

    Michael Cyprus said:

    >> If Ducati is a Luxury Brand then What is Yamaha and Honda?
    >> if they had a good product they wouldn’t go on sale…

    The brands you mention are normal goods. If you take time to analise its market niche position, you will see that Ducati’s higher end models are considered luxury or rather more exclusive than other brands, say the japanese manufacturers for example. For history and manufacturing. They produce a more limited number of bikes than the other manufacturers.

    It is precisely that they have a good brand and value associated to it that they are selling. As an investor you sale when you think you have achieved the investment return you aimed at when you bought the company. A WBSK championship, and a new top of the line superbike, wit all the publiciyu it has received, part of teh marketing to have it be a center of discussion. Pure business transaction to maximize sale price.

    Lastly, have you personally owned a Ducati, or just repeating what many that feel threatened by the Italian markee say?
    Cheers

    • Gutterslob says:

      I have owned a Ducati. The original Monster, albeit a later 900cc model.
      Yes it had a certain character and charm, but the paint chipped easily, the turn indicators failed 6 or 7 times, the low-fuel warning light came on sometimes for no darn reason (like, just after I topped it up). Don’t even get me started on the clutch and issues with valve clearance. Oh, and the stock mirrors were complete bollocks, but that wasn’t an issue as I changed them on almost all the naked/upright bikes I’ve ridden anyway.

      Overall, I still enjoyed it, but it was far from a top quality product.

      Also had some goes on a friend’s 996 on a track. Was fun, but didn’t exactly eclipse the Gixxer 750 I had at the time. The additional torque was good, but the components “advantage” it had over my Suzuki (like Brembo, Ohlins…etc) didn’t translate to a better to ride (I might not be a GP star, but I’m pretty decent with setup, mind you… though I admit I have this unusual preference for fast rebound). Not bad, but definitely not “plush” like all the journos said.

      I don’t dislike their bikes, but I do think they’re grossly overrated. I’d take a Supermono if someone offered me one, though.

  11. Randy Singer says:

    michael Cyprus said:

    >> Or the specially tailored WSBK regulations to allow them to use 20% more engine capacity to
    >> outperform the other and win champions…

    If you think that Ducati is getting special treatment to help them win in WSBK, you are wrong. Ducati has a twin racing against fours. It’s true that they get a displacement advantage, but they also must run intake restrictors. Ducati’s WSBK racers give away 25 or more horsepower to their rivals.

    The rules are designed to allow more brands to participate, to allow varied engine configurations, and to make the racing more interesting to the public, all while maintaining competitiveness. It can be argued that the rules actually are unfavorable to Ducati. (Ducati thinks so.) The fact that Ducati wins championships isn’t cause to express sour grapes and dream up groundless conspiracy theories.

  12. JB says:

    Well, Honda and Suzuki are already in both businesses, and Yamaha makes engines for some cars, so this isn’t as far out there as expected. MY problem is — VW is getting SO massive, it is bound to implode GM style — taking with it Ducati, Lambo, Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti, Italdesign Giugiaro, etc… Also, VW owns 20% of Suzuki, so there MIGHT be something of a conflict of interest here? No idea what to think of all this… I AM worried, though! :o\

  13. michael Cyprus says:

    If Ducati is a Luxury Brand then What is Yamaha and Honda?
    if they had a good product they wouldn’t go on sale…

    Look at motoGP, the ultimate motorbike technology
    There is no fake advertisement there, just pure technology and knowledge of know how!

    What is the luxury in Ducati?
    The faulty electronics or the discoloring plastics whit in a year?
    Or the specially tailored WSBK regulations to allow them to use 20% more engine capacity to outperform the other and win champions to use them in their advertisement campaign as a luxury brand

    • Gary says:

      I think Ducati is a good brand. Quirky, yes … but good. As a general rule, brands aren’t sold because of quality issues. They are sold because they are mismanaged–and this is certainly true in this case. Here’s hoping VW turns Ducati around. I have a soft spot for Ducati, having been run over by an early single in a moto-cross race!

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “As a general rule, brands aren’t sold because of quality issues. They are sold because they are mismanaged–and this is certainly true in this case.”

        not true. in this case it was sold because investment firms are in the business of CASH. buying low and selling high. for investindustrial, this “sell-by” date was a known quantity from the very beginning. truth be told, the presence of VR46 really has nothing to do with racing, motorcycles, or any of that crap we think is important. he was deliberately brought in as a pawn to “hyper-valuate” the company for the pending sale. we’ve just witnessed the near perfect execution of a multi year business plan.

        • Gary says:

          True, Norm … but I maintain that the brand did not make money because it was mismanaged. Chicken before the egg. The fact is Ducati did a poor job of marketing the brand. Ironic since they had many fine examples nearby of how to market effectively … Ferrari, most notably. They seemed to want to straddle the line between commodity and luxury, and in doing so succeeded at neither.

  14. Patrick Connelly says:

    How about BMW buys in with Horex guys and they start putting VR6’s in Mini Coopers?

    • Norm G. says:

      bmw’s motorrad division already sees them enviably top o’ the food (schnitzel und kraut) chain. although you can bet this is a wet dream for the guy who holds the rights to horex.

  15. ziggy says:

    Two world class performance legends getting together. Only good can come from this.

  16. Tom says:

    It’s a CEO ego thing, mostly. And a chance to say, “We at Audi are aggressive in building our brand as a world leader in motorsports.” But what brand overlap or synergy or interaction is there? Not much. “Hey look, Ducati won a GP race, lets go buy an Audi!” That’s not likely to happen. “Honey, seeing as how you love your new Audi so much, how about I buy a Ducati?” That’s not a realistic scenario, either. The next Audi CEO will sell off Ducati in the name focusing on our core brands and strengthening share-holder value.

    • blackcayman says:

      yah cuz in MotoGP they can’t get out of their own way

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “But what brand overlap or synergy or interaction is there?”

      the same that mercedes enjoys by creating an AMG edition diavel and AMG sponsoring VR46. (ps, you may now kiss that sponsorship goodbye)

      re: “Not much.”

      not much YET. wait awhile.

      re: “Hey look, Ducati won a GP race, lets go buy an Audi! That’s not likely to happen. Honey, seeing as how you love your new Audi so much, how about I buy a Ducati? That’s not a realistic scenario, either.”

      only unlikely or unrealistic to those lacking insight into the world of BMW car-side and BMW motorrad. the very things you say won’t happen… DO happen… are happening… and have been for decades.

  17. Norm G. says:

    in your face stuttgart…!!! :) in your face munich…!!! :)

  18. kirk66 says:

    The VW CEO wanted Ducati when Texas Pacific sold it years ago. He never stopped wanting it. It’s funny, really. Look at the Italian brands that VW holds now. Another thing to consider is the fact that even the DUcati CEO refers to the brand as the Audi of motorcycle engineering. Seems both CEOs knew long ago that this was in the cards.

  19. John says:

    VW is doing this because they don’t like the idea that BMW is doing something it doesn’t.

    And that’s cool. It’s not to make money or anything. And they need to spend there money on something.

    There are some interesting possibilities with variations of VW engines down the road, such as VW’s 800cc TDI engine or 3 cylinder TSI. Not likely any time soon. Or maybe they will spin off a second motorcycle brand that is more of a hybrid between VW and Ducati, since Suzuki partnership hasn’t been going so well. Or maybe this is part of a long term strategy with Suzuki. Whatever, it will be interesting.

    Of course, we have to remember that this is the company that almost fired J Mays for coming up the the New Beetle.

  20. Stone says:

    Ducati + Audi = Ducaudi!

  21. ApriliaRST says:

    One reason Audi wants it is to compete with BMW in the two-wheeled world. Besides, who wouldn’t like to be able to claim ownership of Ducati?

  22. johnny ro says:

    And in related news, GM announced acquisition of Harley Davidson.

    I suppose I will open up VW investor relations link to see what they say about why they want it.