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Ducati, Piaggio eye Aprilia

July 26, 2004
Filed under Features

Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A. and Piaggio & Co., SpA separately are talking about purchasing fellow Italian manufacturer Aprilia SpA. Ducati submitted an offer on July 7 to acquire a majority stake in financially-troubled Aprilia, and on July 12 Piaggio’s board of directors authorized Chairman Roberto Colaninno to make an offer for Aprilia .
Aprilia’s debt rose to $271.2 million at the end of 2003, up from $245.3 million at year-end 2002. The company sought new investors in May in a move to restructure its debts.
Ducati’s plan is to resolve the crisis at Aprilia while creating an Italian motorcycle group to compete successfully in global markets, Ducati officials say.
“Ours is a long-term industrial project,” Federico Minoli, Ducati chairman and CEO, said in a prepared statement announcing the offer. “We are not financial investors. We are moved by passion and we are dedicated to the success of Italian bikes worldwide.”
This success, he said, depends on enhancing the different identities of each individual brand.
“Technological competencies, the real asset of each company, could be better used in an integrated and coherent development plan that avoids duplication, and that concentrates its investment efforts on technology and innovation.
“All together these companies will have a great market penetration force… abroad,” he said. In the meantime, the three companies, working together, could realize important synergies in sales structures and distribution channels, as well as in purchasing and administrative structures.
Texas Pacific Group, based in Fort Worth, Texas, is a significant investor in Ducati Motor Holding SpA. TPG snapped up shares in Ducati in 1996, when the finances of former parent Cagiva S.p.A. soured and the Bologna-based firm went public. An investment partnership run by U.S. financier David Bonderman, TPG was founded in 1993 and has an estimated $13 billion under management.
Meanwhile, Piaggio said it will formulate a plan to move forward with Aprilia’s current staff and assets. The owner of the Vespa brand, based in Pontedera, in northern Italy, said a merger with Aprilia would create a company with more than 1.5 billion Euro, ($1.87 billion), in revenue.
Aprilia is based in Scorze, Italy, and already has a joint procurement agreement with Piaggio. Piaggio’s largest shareholder is Colaninno’s investment vehicle Immsi SpA. psb

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