Ducati, one of the most famous names in motorbikes, and indeed one of the most famous brands in the world, may soon be up for sale, according to reports at the weekend.
The private equity group Investindustrial, which has owned Ducati for the past three years, is said to be readying it for sale. Ducati made about £79m last year, and a price tag of about £875m is rumoured.
If Ducati is able to emulate the success of other luxury brands in the automotive world, such as Ferrari, Rolls- Royce and Bentley, and make inroads into the burgeoning Chinese and Indian markets for premium products, its future could be even more exciting than one of its blood-red racing bikes.
Like Triumph in the UK, Ducati suffered in recent decades from the drive for world domination by the Japanese makes, but also like Triumph it has recently enjoyed something of revival based on its brand heritage and retro styling – as with the new Mini and Fiat 500, something of theme in the success of historic, much-loved European brands.
Ducati was founded by three brothers in Bologna, Italy, 85 years ago, and moved into the bike business in 1950. Since then it has spent most of its life under the direct or indirect control of the Italian government and, latterly, various industrial and private equity groups. The brand is still active in motor racing, including the MotoGP World Championship.
If nothing else, a Ducati float would allow enthusiasts to own some unusually evocative share certificates.