Harley-Davidson readies offer to buy Ducati: report

By AutoFOXBusiness

Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) is preparing to make an offer to acquire Ducati, the Italian motorcycle rival owned by Volkswagen (OTC:VLKAY), according to a Reuters report published Wednesday.

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The iconic American bike maker joins India’s Bajaj Auto and multiple buyout funds in the race to buy Ducati, Reuters said. The deal could be worth up to $1.67 billion.

A Harley-Davidson spokesperson told FOX Business that the company doesn’t comment on market rumors.

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson, which recently announced plans for a new factory in Thailand, has accelerated its global ambitions as motorcycle brands face a shrinking U.S. market. Harley has also contended with fiercer competition and heavier discounting from Indian Motorcycle, a Polaris (NYSE:PII)-owned brand, and Honda (NYSE:HMC).

Acquiring Ducati would instantly give Harley a well-known brand in Europe that has a long history in racing. Ducati’s speedsters could also complement Harley’s famous touring bikes.

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Tentative bids should arrive in July, Reuters said. Ducati, which is controlled by Volkswagen’s Audi division, has reportedly attracted interest from private equity funds KKR (NYSE:KKR), Bain Capital and Permira, in addition to Harley-Davidson.

Shares of Harley-Davidson climbed 1.6% to $56.39 in recent trading.

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