Ducati is staying under the Volkswagen Group umbrella - at least that’s according to a report by Bloomberg, which cites ongoing opposition from the German company's powerful labour unions as the reason why the motorcycle company's ‘for sale’ sign has been temporarily removed.
The move prompted several or more bidders, including Italy’s Benetton family, US automotive firm Polaris Industries, and Ducati’s former owner Italian company Investindustrial to express dismay in the process.
Even the private equity funds were keen, with the likes of Bain Capital and PAI Partners appearing genuinely interested on the fashionable motorcycle brand. The bids valued the business between 1.3 billion to 1.5 billion euros ($1.94 to $2.24 billion), representing a multiple of 13 times Ducati’s core earnings of 100 million euros ($149 million).
Issues arose when the labour leaders opposed the asset sale, citing the fact that the Ducati business has little or no synergy with the core operations of the Volkswagen Group’s global activities. Employee representatives represent half of the group’s 20-member supervisory board, which can block strategic decisions.
Above: Some of the brands under the Volkswagen Group banner
Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A., the 91-year-old Italian motorcycle manufacturer, has been solely owned by Volkswagen Group luxury subsidiary Audi since April 2012, but has been on the market since April in a bid to offset results of the carmaker’s emissions scandal along with streamlining the business.
The acquisition of Ducati was part of the Volkswagen's aggressive expansion plans from 2007, and cost the group 860 million euros ($1.283 billion). So, the bids on the table represent a tidy gain over a relatively short term.
The report also says that “it is unlikely that negotiations will be resumed this year”, making bidders even more impatient, as the months go by.
Interestingly, Volkswagen’s head of strategy, Thomas Sedran, recently told Reuters that the carmaker was in no rush to find a buyer for Ducati. Instead, it was more focused on its shift towards electric vehicles (EVs).