Audi is in talks to buy Ducati, the famous Italian bike company from owner Investindustrial SpA, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Audi, which has the right of first refusal on a purchase until mid-April, is considering a total price of about 850 million euros ($1.12 billion) for the Italian company, which would include assuming some 800 million euros in liabilities, according to one people who declined to be identified.

The Financial Times reported last month Investindustrial was looking to sell the motorbike brand for up to 1 billion euros, three times its initial investment.

A spokesman for Audi said the company “generally doesn’t comment on speculation“.

Investindustrial, the majority owner of Ducati, best known for its premium and professional racing bikes, declined to comment.

The move for Ducati, which is on the market, is part of VW chairman Ferdinand Piech’s dream of going the bike path in what’s called Project Eagle.

He has been eyeing up the opportunity of buying a prestigious motorcycle brand for some time, and considered reviving Horex, a German motorbike firm which made single- and twin-cylinder bikes from 1936 to 1956.

According to Reuters, Ducati had expanded its market share in the countries where it was active from 8.5 percent in 2010 to 10.7 percent in 2011. It introduced two significant new models in the last year, the Diavel and the 1199 Panigale.

Aside from the financial implications, a takeover by a major corporation such as VW would make sense for Ducati due to the huge advantages in terms of investment and access to new technology.


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