Official: Audi buys Ducati for $1.1 billion image

Audi, the luxury car unit of Volkswagen, said Wednesday that it had agreed to buy Italian motorcycle maker Ducati from Investindustrial SpA for 860 million euros ($1.1 billion), including debt.

The Supervisory Boards of AUDI AG and Volkswagen AG approved the acquisition today in Hamburg.

Alongside the traditional Italian brands Lamborghini and Italdesign, Ducati is now a third pillar for AUDI AG in Northern Italy.

“Ducati is known worldwide as a premium brand among motorcycle manufacturers and has a long tradition of building sporty motorcycles. It has great expertise in high-performance engines and lightweight construction, and is one of the world’s most profitable motorcycle manufacturers. That makes Ducati an excellent fit for Audi.”

Ducati would add motorcycles the growing VW empire that includes the VW, Audi, Skoda, Bentley and Lamborghini car brands and heavy truckmakers Scania and MAN.

Ducati, based in Bologna, has some 1,100 employees. Last year, it sold about 42,000 motorcycles and had revenue of some €480 million ($630 million). By comparison, industry leader Honda sold over 16 million motorcycles last year.

The Italian company posted a 39 percent increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to 93 million euros in 2011. Revenue rose 20 percent to 480 million euros, giving it a profit margin of about 19 percent.

Volkswagen wants to become the world’s largest auto maker by 2018 and is investing heavily to boost its presence across the globe. It posted record vehicle sales and profits last year and has significant muscle to finance its expansion plan with EUR17 billion in net liquidity as of Dec. 31, 2011.