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Harley-Davidson Might Buy Ducati: Report

Photo: Seth Perlman/AP
Photo: Seth Perlman/AP

For a while, we’ve heard talks about Volkswagen selling Ducati, in part, to help pay for the financial drain resulting from Dieselgate. Now, according to Reuters, companies are preparing bids for the Italian sport bike company, and American juggernaut Harley-Davidson might just be a suitor.

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Reuters’s sources say the Wisconsin-based maker of big V-twin cruisers has hired Goldman Sachs to prepare a “takeover bid” for Audi-owned Ducati that could be worth “up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.67 billion).”

This would bring together two huge but very different names in the motorcycle industry—one from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that’s known for big, loud highway cruisers, and the other from Bologna, Italy, that’s known for smaller, race-oriented sportbikes. The result could be a hugely powerful company with a variety of styles of motorbikes under its umbrella.

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Reuters’s sources also reports that BMW, Honda and Suzuki are not interested in bidding on Ducati, but that Indian motorcycle maker Bajaj Auto and “several buyout funds” are assessing bids. The news site’s sources close to the matter said Harley would likely submit its “tentative” bids in July. But a source close to VW told Reuters the German company and the firm it contracted to handle the sale—investment banking firm Evercore—may not finalize the sale until mid-November.

As all of this is from “sources,” there’s still a lot we don’t know. But the idea of a big chrome-covered hog and a svelte brightly-colored Ducati Monster all coming from the same company is kind of exciting to think about.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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DISCUSSION

Great idea if Milwaukee stays the F out of Italy and leaves them alone. The bar and shield know how to take care of their market group, but they can’t even sell their own performance bike the v-rod, because the faithful see water cooling as the Devil’s own tears. Plus they know nothing about racing or sport bikes, as evidenced by the crimes against Eric Buell, and Buell, MV Agusta and EBR, etc. etc.