Could Ducati and Piaggio merge?

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Ducati_Piaggio_Merger.jpgDespite unconditional denials by Piaggio’s owner, Immsi, rumors of a possible merger between Ducati and Piaggio are intensifying in Italy. Word is that leading global management consultancy McKinsey & Company has been contracted to evaluate potential merger candidates for the struggling Piaggio Group and that the now privately-controlled Ducati is being tipped as the best option.
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In an official statement, Immsi defined as baseless, “any assumptions
about possible integration of the Piaggio Group and other industry
groups.” The company then goes on to deny “categorically, that they have
heard of projects or documents of any kind, developed by McKinsey in
relation to that hypothesis.”

You’re likely familiar with the Ducati brand already, but many people don’t realize that, in addition to manufacturing scooters under its own name, Piaggio owns Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Derbi, Vespa, Gilera and Ligier.

Italian wire service MF suggests that the McKinsey study is at the
preliminary stages, but will be examining the possibility of integrating
Ducati and Piaggio. The thinking appears to be that major investment
could be drummed up for a Ducati/Piaggio super company since such a
merger would create a major competitor for the big four Japanese
motorcycle makers. Not only would such a company have a a wide range of
products – running the gamut from scooters to SBK competitors and
everything in between — but it’d also have the volume and the
manufacturing capacity to tackle emerging markets in Southeast Asia.

via Reuters and Borsa Italiana

  • vic

    so the 2 wheeled equivalent of fiat.hmm

  • Raymond Pickwoad

    if this means cheaper italian bikes, make it happen make it happen now.

  • geonerd

    if piaggio is struggling, it seems like a lot of risk for Ducati. they’re already growing in market share and their brand image has never been better. i dunno.

  • robotribe

    IF such a merger were to occur, I’m hoping the larger super company looks more like Volkswagen Auto Group and not the GM and Ford Borg-like companies who’ve had to amputate limps just to stay alive the past year or more.

    Really, what Piaggio needs to survive is a good ‘ol rally on commodities; specifically oil. Nothing makes a Vespa sell like $4/gallon gasoline.

    • Ken

      VW is a transnational group with divisions based in Germany, Spain, Italy, Britain and the Czech Republic. That makes life a lot easier when you want to put some daylight between your brands. I wouldn’t fancy the job of trying to manage this proposed motorcycle minestrone.

  • http://www.damiengaudet.com damien

    Is there any merit to those rumors about VW buying Ducati?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2009/05/motoczysz-e1pc-spied-testing-a.html Wes Siler

      No, I really don’t know where all the VW/motorcycle talk comes from. VW has zero interest in motorcycles despite what its CEO was quoted as saying in passing. They acquired a 20% stake in Suzuki, but that was just to give them access to the car division’s presence in emerging markets and for some technology, nothing to do with two wheels.

  • Ian

    I hope this doesn’t happen. Look at the mess Piaggio made of Gilera. A great traditional brand reduced to mediocre scooters. Guzzi seem to have lost their way and I struggle to see how Aprilia and Ducati can be under the same umbrella.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Can we not talk about what would surely be the demise of the RSV4, please? No one needs that kind of stress in a recession.

  • sburns2421

    While Ducati and Aprilia are direct competitors today, it wouldn’t neccesarily have to remain that way if a merger were to take place. really no different having Ducati-Aprilia-Moto Guzzi under one umbrella than having Aprilia and Guzzi now.

    Imagine the lineup:
    Ducati: remains the same with V-twins exclusively. The premium product of the range price-wise, possibly entry level (696 & 796 models) axed.

    Aprilia: V-4 variations for premium product of RSV4 and Tuono-4. The “anti-Ducati” option if you will. At least a sale to Aprilia is not a sale to Honda or BMW for someone not wanting a twin. Also smaller entry-level bikes of various displacements and configurations similar to their lineup now.

    Moto Guzzi: traditional big V-twin bikes. Not as sporty, more cruisers and runabouts.

    Derbi: small cheap bikes for EU and Asian markets, not scooters though. Or just mothball Derbi and make more Aprilias.

    Gilera: Stylish modern scooters with unique performance. Rename the 3-wheel Piaggio as a Gilera.

    Vespa: “Premium” scooter brand with traditional styling.

    Now all the group would have to do is buy MV Agusta from H-D and have a virtual monopoly on old Italian marques.

    What wouldn’t work in this scenario?

    • robotribe

      I’d take your scenario, minus a merge with Ducati, and go two more steps: Dump Derbi and Gilera, and rebadge what’s worth keeping to make a complete sport/maxi-scoot/small displacement scooter range all under the Piaggio marque.

      Piaggio = modern/contemporary-styled scooters in various displacements, including any future EV models

      Vespa = traditional, vintage-style scooters

      Aprilia = modern/contemporary-styled sport and city bikes focusing on high performance and tech-forward engineering. Could also rebadge some of the sportier small displacement Derbi offerings under the Aprilia name.

      MV Agusta = further enable the marque to be exactly what it is/should be: an Italian-equivalent to the Triumph “Modern Classics/Cruisers” range

  • TeeJay

    If Piaggio is struggling it is because of the satilite brand. The sales of original brand scooters were fine – with only a minor reduction compared to prev. year.
    I doubt that the solution for them would be to include one more premium brand into the group.

  • lizard king

    OMG…no no no.Piaggio and Vespa scooters are turds on wheels,Guzzi’s are a joke,Aprilia’s are the only thing they have going for them.Ducati would gain nothing but headaches.

    • Mike

      Lizard King… you obviously don’t know much about Piaggio.

      To develop the Aprilia RSV4… Piaggio used money from Piaggio and Vespa products…they are the glue for the company and their sales allow all of the other brands to continue to exist…

      Do you really think Piaggio was making much $$ from the Aprilia brand before the RSV4?!

      Whether you like Vespas or not…. without them, there is no Aprilia

    • Justin

      Turds on wheels? Name 1 scooter company that makes a better built, more reliable, better looking, all steel scooter. You can’t do it. If you have to pick on scooters atleast find a manufacturer that warrants the pissy pants critique. Honda’s for example are one of the slowest, least modifiable scooters you can buy. What they retain in name recognition and reputation they loose in spades in ride quality and longevity.

  • http://www.derbi.com/int/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=45&Itemid=39 Komet

    Derbi makes a cool 650 scrambler I wouldn’t mind seeing available in the US.

  • Komet
  • Def-Star

    Ducati can start producing CVT sportbikes and open up a whole new market for itself. The future is now.

  • Isaac

    Hey that would be bice if they mergered but with a drawback. I mean yeah we would most likeley see a 22K/16K/14K = 1198r/1198s/1198 and probably an 10.5K 848.

    But then what would become of the RSV-4? You know they wouldn’t want in-house competition. And not to mention it would be so easy to axe them and give themselves more security in WSBK.

    Or maybe they can still have the Ape but possibly get rid of ‘factory’ teams and just let independents rcae their products. That way they would be neutral in the whole thing. Now the Moto GP team could still be backed by Ducati since there is no Aprilia team there…..yet.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2009/05/motoczysz-e1pc-spied-testing-a.html Wes Siler

      Remember that Aprilia is absolutely tiny compared to Piaggio or even Vespa.

  • Isaac

    Oh hey just thought of something else. Couldn’t All that money could give Piaggo a chance to develop an Aprilia RSV4-600R? And maybe with technology sharing we might a Ducati MX450/MX450s/MX450r dirt bike line up.

  • Fierobear

    I’m thinking a desmo Vespa that can smoke the rear tire at will would be…..stupid.
    But I want one, anyway.

  • Tom

    They left out that Piaggio also owns the Laverda IP rights as well. Dead, but they still own them.

    • Isaac

      Tom, oh yeah I remeber that bike. Wasn’t it the SC1000-RR or something. I think I will go look that up.

  • Isaac

    Oh it’s called the SFC1000!

  • Daan van de Westelaken

    If this happens I hope the rsv4 won’t become a track only bike like the guzzi mgs-01. Because the original concept for that had headlights but somehow never made it to the road.

  • Michael

    You have that backwards.

    Ducati is a hobby industry compared to the size and market value of Piaggio Group. Aside from the obvious manufacturing of motorcycles and scooters, Piaggio is a true multinational that exports engines, sells technology and has joint ventures with other OEMs all over the world.

    It continuously amazes me how many people think Ducati is some kind of powerhouse company. May I remind you that it has been bankrupt, and sold 3 times in the past 18 years. Hardly a picture of stability of an economically viable business.

    Wake up ans smell the espresso burning.

  • michael

    Ducati Revenues – $630 Million
    Piaggio Revenues – $ 1.57 Billion

    http://www.powersportsbusiness.com/output.cfm?ID=2462671

    If this rumour is true, then Piaggio is taking over Ducati. Not unlikely, considering the new mantra of Italian industrial business is “economy of scale through critical mass volume”. Piaggio boss Colaninno is aggressively expanding the company, absorbing Derbi assets last year, and factory capacity in Vietnam and India.

    M

    • Epyx

      Thanks Michael,
      I had no idea Ducati was such a small company, is it still owned by Performance Motorcycles? I am very surprised Piaggio has not attempted to acquire the brand sooner (maybe they have), or really anyone else for that matter.

      M&A activity is starting to recover (not anything like pre-crash) and with the the slow sales of motorcycles (just like automobiles), I think we will see some brand consolidation and maybe a few small brands disappearing.
      Given the value of the name “Ducati,” the brand is potentially equally desirable to the products and technology. Hopefully this quality, does not make Ducati bait for a Chinese company looking to gain instant market credibility. A chinese bike branded with Ducati (or sold along side) is easier to peddle than an unknown entity called “Zongshen.”

      I would hate to see the Ducati name diluted by becoming just a marketing name similar to how the name Westinghouse is used to market consumer electronics.

  • Will

    Piaggio would destroy Ducati just as they have destroyed Gilera, Guzzi, and Aprilia (compare their scooters before and after Piaggio). Piaggio is very much the two-wheel equivalent of GM, a train wreck that destroys the intrinsic value of every brand they touch. Cancer for the Italian motorcycle industry.

  • Tom

    Ducati Revenues – $630 Million
    Piaggio Revenues – $ 1.57 Billion

    What are the debts of Piaggio? Just the revenue is not enough to give the full picture of a company.

  • cyrus

    This would be the death of ducati, i hate to see a premium brand taken over and run by bad management/company. If quality of ducatis suffer i for sure will not buy another ducati after my 848

  • Mike

    Piaggio has attempted to purchase Ducati in the past… and was denied due to “Monopoly” of the Italian motos… FACT

    However that being said, Piaggio is definitely in some troubles w the US Market.
    people are not buying scooters right now… and the only Guzzis that are selling well are the V7 and V7 Cafe classic….

    The Aprilias are doing well w/ the V4, but the Shiver, Dorso, leftover RSV’s and Tuonos are not moving.

  • Jim R

    Just ran into a couple of Harley riders while at the bank. One of them asked me about my bike; a 2003 Piaggio BV200 scooter. How fast does it go? About 78 mph, I said. Mileage? Getting about 60 to 65 on mixed city/freeway commute.

    They were impressed! Then I popped open my rear trunk to put my helmet away. But I first had to remove the rain gear and move it to the large under seat storage area. They thought that was pretty cool.

    After depositing some checks, I went through the McDonalds drive thru. Couldn’t get a beverage as there’s no place to hold it without spilling, but the sandwich and fries fit nicely into my glove box for the ride back to work.

    I like my scooter. May not be “manly” like the Harleys, but it gets me where I need to go and is quite comfortable on all but the most bumpy roads.

  • Will

    Any update? Supposedly Tom Cruise chose Ducati for the bikes in the movie “Knight and Day”

    I’m thrilled about the choice but not especially excited about the movie.

    -Will