Could Ducati Become an American Motorcycle?

It looks like Audi AG may be selling Ducati Motor Holdings. This is because Volkswagen—Audi’s parent company—became embroiled in a devastating scandal called Dieselgate, and now must pay billions in fines. This has opened up the door for ambitious companies all over the world, but one of the frontrunners to buy this Italian motorcycle brand might surprise you. It’s Harley-Davidson.

Why Is Harley Trying to Buy Ducati?

Harley-Davidson is the number one motorcycle manufacturer in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t have its share of problems. A resurgent Indian Motorcycles is gobbling up Harley’s market share along with cheaper yet reliable bikes from Honda. Investors are concerned and that’s why Harley has been going to great lengths to strengthen its international presence.

A new factory in Thailand as well as an already established plant in India has allowed Harley to push into Asia. Yet, several factors keep the company from being a dominant force in Europe—enter Ducati. The Italian motorcycle marque is known as the Ferrari of two wheels. Its bikes sell like crazy in Europe and its sales have increased in recent years—Ducati earned almost $112 million last year before taxes. That kind of sales power could be quite the boon for Harley, and the added technological advancements from Ducati could also add to the performance of Harley’s bikes.

This all sounds like the deal would be a great idea, but there are several factors standing in the way. First, there are others interested in buying Ducati: Bajaj Autos, KKR, and Bain Capital just to name a few. Second, Harley-Davidson’s spotty financial performance leaves many skeptical. Third, Ducati Motor Holding’s price tag is a whopping $1.6 billion.

Currently, Harley-Davidson has engaged Goldman Sachs to put together a $1.67 billion offer on the company. But with the American company’s history with brands like MV Augusta and Buell, does the motorcycling community want Harley-Davidson to control the big red factory in Panigale? Our motorcycling attorneys at the Metier Law Firm can’t wait to find out.

Tom Metier

Tom Metier

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