A sponsorship agreement between Italian motorcycle company Ducati and the high-performance AMG division of Mercedes-Benz isn’t expected to carry on for much longer. The reason? Rival German luxury automaker Audi is said to be in exclusive talks with the storied bike manufacturer, which could result in a sale by as early as mid-April.
Previous rumors had indicated a long list of other suitors, including Volkswagen, Mercedes parent company Daimler and India’s Mahindra. However, according to a report by the UK’s CAR magazine, citing high-level sources within Audi, the automaker has been given first dibs to work out a deal.
Despite its popularity and success, Ducati is hemorrhaging money, and is believed to be in debt by as much as $1.25 billion. Rather than pay outright for the motorbike company, it’s believed Audi will offer a small amount (as little as 78 million), while also taking on the huge debt load.
Initially Audi parent company Volkswagen had planned to revive the historic German motorcycle company Horex, but with little brand recognition and the up-hill battle of starting from scratch made the Ducati move far more attractive once the Italian bike firm hit the market.
Currently Ducati manufactured roughly 40,000 motorcycles a year.