Ducati is set to change hands this year after its private equity owner said it aimed to make three times its initial investment by selling or listing the producer of top-end Italian motorcycles.
Investindustrial, the Italian private equity group backed by the Bonomi family, is looking to dispose of the motorbike brand in a deal worth up to €1bn.
“Ducati is now a perfect company but the further growth it requires needs the support of a world-class industrial partner,” Andrea Bonomi, Investindustrial’s chairman – and a Ducati driver as well as speedboat owner – told the Financial Times. “This year, we will work towards that partner.”
Last year Investindustrial, one of the biggest private equity investors in southern Europe, mandated Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs to sound out a public listing for Ducati in Hong Kong. But a sale to a rival or to a large car group is now seen as the more likely way to internationalise the brand further.
Ducati, which started life 86 years ago as a radio manufacturer, sells about 40,000 motorcycles per year and claims a market share of almost 9 per cent in the global sports motorcycle market. Its sleek design and sporty image has attracted a base of celebrity fans, including Prince William.
Mr Bonomi said a handful of industrial groups in Asia, Europe and the US were interested in Ducati. People close to the situation said possible buyers could include Indian motorcycle group Mahindra and German car groups such as Volkswagen and BMW.
BMW owns a large motorcycle brand and Ferdinand Piëch, VW’s chairman, has long cast an eye on Ducati as a way for his car empire to enter the motorcycle market.
Ducati has debts of about 1.7 times its earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation, a low level when compared with most private equity portfolio companies.
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