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VW workers kill off the sale of Ducati

Workers representatives on the board of Volkswagen, the ultimate owners of the Ducati brand, have effectively stopped the proposed sale of the Italian brand.

Reuters have reported that workers leaders, with significant voting rights in Volkswagen’s complex ownership structure, have stopped Ducati’s sale by the parent company.

“The employee representatives on Volkswagen’s supervisory board will neither approve a sale of Ducati, nor one of Renk or MAN Diesel & Turbo,” a spokesman for VW group’s works council told Reuters late on Saturday.

“Everyone who can read the VW half-year results should know: We don’t need money and our subsidiaries are not up for grabs by bargain hunters.”

The article also claimed that the billionaire Porsche and Piech families, who control 52 percent of voting shares in VW, also do not support selling Ducati.

Although Audi technically owns Ducati the VW group’s supervisory board, on which the worker representatives sit, must approve any potential sale.

Audi will still invite bidders for the brand, although with the worker’s statements now public it does not seem clear why anyone would. To make sure bidders got the message, a workers spokesman said, “…we advise all supposedly interested parties: Save your time to check any books. A sale will not happen.”

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There’s no real need to sell

If you ever found yourself thinking how the Audi deal ever made sense and least know this: they make machines that go fast.

They understand how these machines should be made and marketed. So why would they actually sell Ducati?

We’re not sure they wanted to. It’s all seemingly part of a big political play by the head of VW to restructure the company in readiness for the coming changes in the automotive landscape.

Some argue the sale is driven by the fact the parent brand, Volkswagen, has a big fine to pay for cheating emissions testing.

But it’s not really about the money. As the workers say, there’s plenty in the bank already, Ducati makes money, even if it is only 0.3% of operating revenue and profit. There’s no need to sell.

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What about the buyers?

What do Harley Davidson and reportedly four other bidders do now? Think themselves lucky actually.

Why on earth did Harley Davidson ever think buying Ducati was a good idea? OK, the very first HD’s ever built were for racing, sometime back in the Ice Age, but where is the synergy between the brands (and their core audiences)?

Did they somehow think a Street Bob owner could be sold a Multistrada? Oh, hang on… there is that Diavel thing…

HD couldn’t get it right with Erik Buell so what made them think they could work with a mindset that thought it was a good idea to release performance bikes with clutches that sound like a bag of spanners or L-twin engines? Both things Ducatisti love, by the way.

The Italians, bless them, must be bonkers to work with. Maybe it’s the sun. What ever it is, it produces motorcycling moments that delivered by anyone else would seem like madness but, coming out of the Borgo Panigale factory, actually somehow make sense (except the Diavel Diesel). It means the same people that brought us the Superleggera can get away with reintroducing the Ducati Scrambler to the world.

Ducati sale
The 999, not as pretty as it’s older cousins

Then again, these are the same people who took arguably the purest and most beautiful sports bike front end ever, the 748/996 and did that stacked spotlight thing to the 999 a few years later… See what I mean? Truly nuts.

Milwaukee should think itself lucky to have not gotten involved. Would Harley Davidson really have known how to work with Italian flair? Especially given they’ve built pretty much the same bike, give or take the odd engine fiddle, to the same target audience for the past 120 or so years? Probably not.

Other bidders for the brand also had a close shave. How did the Benetton family, famous for making colourful jumpers and pissing off the Pope, expect to understand the European motorcycle business?

They should think themselves lucky and thank the workers at VW, because hopefully, we’ll never know.

Get yourself sorted:

Actually, the 999 is not quite the ugly duckling it seemed first time round and many believe it could be an undervalued bargain by Ducati standards.

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