German car giant Audi has until mid-April to decide if it wants to buy Ducati as part of a exclusivity deal according to insiders.
MCN sister title CAR magazine has revealed Audi (which is part of the massive Volkswagen Group) is likely to make the decision quite quickly and its thought the firm will pay just over £700million for the iconic Italian brand but that will also include taking on all of the Ducati debt.
Here is the full the inside story from CAR magazine journalist Georg Kacher.
Why is Audi buying Ducati?
It's all part of Project Eagle, another brainchild of Volkswagen group boss Ferdinand Piech.
He has been eyeing up the opportunity of buying a prestigious motorcycle brand for some time, and considered reviving Horex, a German motorcycle firm which made bikes from 1936 to 1956 but it was felt Horex didn’t have enough brand recognition, so when Bologna-based Ducati came up for sale the VW Group paid close attention.
Especially since Mercedes-Benz recently entered into a cross-promotional deal with Ducati.
Ducati, which makes around 40,000 motorcycles a year, is on the market since its debt burden is reportedly higher than its revenues.
Who else might buy Ducati?
India's Mahindra, Daimler and Volkswagen are said to be among the leading suitors, but CAR can reveal that Audi has struck an exclusivity deal giving it first dibs on Ducati.
A small team of advisors has been formed in Ingolstadt under the Project Eagle name and they're currently doing due diligence on the Ducati deal. According to our insiders, there is no way Audi will pay telephone numbers for Ducati.
Instead, the Germans will probably put no more than €50m to €100m on the table - but absorb the new partner's substantial liabilities.
Ducati chairman Andrea Bonomi has in the past pointed out that he views 'Ducati as the two-wheel equivalent of Audi', a perception Ferdinand Piech would likely agree with.
In 2008, Piech said it was a mistake not to have bought Ducati when the company was on the brink of bankruptcy before. Four years later, Volkswagen is now closer than ever to making the chairman's vision complete.