German luxury carmaker Audi Ag plans to complete the 860 million-euro ($1.06 billion) purchase of Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati later today, a spokesman at Ingolstadt, Germany-based Audi said.
“We expect the announcement this afternoon from our colleagues in Bologna,” spokesman Juergen De Graeve said.
Although the deal was effectively completed in April, Audi were required to finalise matters through the anti-trust authorities who approved the move earlier this month. That prompted Audi CEO Rupert Stadler to visit the Ducati factory on Thursday in Borgo Pangiale, on the outskirts of Bologna, to address the 1,000-strong workforce.
With its 40,000 unit output, Ducati is small even by motorcycle standards, let alone in comparison with the major car factories, but it has a disproportionately high profile and very strong image which could reflect usefully on Audi’s car division, especially as Audi competes with BMW.
Experts predict that the motorcycle market will enjoy strong growth over the next few years, especially in Asia. In 2011, Ducati sold around 42,000 motorcycles and generated revenue of some €480 million, employing around 1,100 people.
The company was founded by Adriano and Marcello Ducati in Bologna in 1926. Known originally as Società Scientifica Radiobrevetti Ducati, it initially built parts for radios. It ventured into the manufacture of motorcycles in 1949.
Volkswagen, including its Audi luxury vehicle division, sold 8.36 million vehicles worldwide in 2011.