Harley-Davidson is preparing a bid for Ducati, according to a report from Reuters. Last month, we reported that VW has been mulling letting go of the prestigious motorcycle brand. This latest development seems to confirm its intentions.
Volkswagen hopes to raise between 1.4 and 1.5 billion Euros from the sale of the brand. It has reportedly tapped Goldman Sachs to work on the valuation with tentative bids expected in July.
Volkswagen’s Audi division has controlled Ducati since it acquired the company from Investindustrial (which also owns a stake in Aston Martin) in 2012. The move to sell is part of Volkswagen's “strategic overhaul” following its emissions scandal. This means cutting thousands of jobs and shelving numerous programs in order to fund the development of EVs to salvage its reputation.
Volkswagen's labor unions, which control half the seats on the carmaker's 20-strong supervisory board, however, are against the sale of the Italian motorcycle maker. "Ducati is a jewel, the sale of which is not supported by the labor representatives on Volkswagen's supervisory board," a spokesman for the union told Reuters.
Harley, the leading name in cruiser bikes, stands to benefit greatly from the acquisition. Its current market is an aging demographic, and is facing newer competition in their own segment from Polaris's Indian brand and Honda's cruiser models. Ducati is a brand practically synonymous with sport bikes (a segment Harley has struggled to make headway into), with numerous MotoGP and World Superbike Championships, as well as its innovative engine valve control technology.
Harley has tried to enter the sport bike market before, acquiring MV Agusta in 2008 before selling it off two years later.
Harley isn't alone, however, with Indian motorcycle maker, Bajaj (which also distributes KTM in India) showing interest. Ducati's former owner, Italian investment firm, Investindustrial, has also shown interest in buying it back. Private equity funds, KKR, Bain Capital, and Permira also have Ducati on their wish list.
Nonetheless, VW doesn't seem to be in a rush to unload the brand as sources told Reuters Volkswagen wants to find the right buyer and the sales process might take time.