Over the past few months, we’ve seen the Volkswagen Group cut back on a number of racing programmes in an attempt to recover costs related to the diesel emissions scandal. A recent report from Reuters, however, suggests that Europe’s largest automaker may well be taking things one step further by selling its Ducati subsidiary.
Yes, according to the report, the Italian motorcycle-maker, currently owned by Audi AG, may soon find itself a casualty of a strategic overhaul.
Although not yet confirmed, Reuters cites two unnamed sources “familiar with the matter” as saying that the German brand is investigating a possible sale. It is widely believed that Volkswagen plans to decrease spending across the group in order to raise enough capital to support its EV and mobility service projects.
The news is somewhat surprising, since just last year Volkswagen AG chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch claimed that none of the group’s sub-brands would be sold off in the wake of the emissions scandal.
But, according to the Reuters report, Volkswagen tasked investment bankers Evercore with finding ways in which the group could save money, and the idea of selling Ducati was reportedly put forward.
Ducati was purchased by Audi in 2012 for €860-million in a deal that was widely criticised at the time by analysts as having little economic or industrial logic. The acquisition was reportedly at the behest of former VW chairman Ferdinand Piech, who has since agreed to sell the majority of his stake in the Porsche SE family holding to his younger brother.
Despite initial criticism, Ducati’s value is said to have grown over the past few years thanks to its increased annual earnings of an estimated €100-million, before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, according to one of the unnamed sources quoted by Reuters. And, as a result, it could fetch up to €1,5-billion, according to the report.
The 17 titles it has won in various superbike championships may also add to its appeal.
Reuters added that the Italian bike manufacturer may appeal to certain Chinese brands, Hero Bikes of India and even the private consortium, led by David Richards of ProDrive, that purchased Aston Martin back in 2007.