MV Agusta: The Castiglioni years

Dailies -


Claudio e Giovanni Castiglioni.jpgClaudio Castiglioni (right) and his brother Giovanni are back in charge of MV Agusta.
“MV Agusta is the crown jewel of Italian motorcycles, I am thrilled to have completed this transaction.”
No wonder Claudio Castiglioni is thrilled. Two years after selling MV Agusta to Harley-Davidson for 70 million euros, they pay him 20 million euros to take it back. Castiglioni immediately promises new models and a bright future for the iconic brands, but MV Agusta’s Castiglioni years suggests we should expect more cunning business deals than actual motorcycle manufacturing.

1991: Cagiva (Castiglioni’s family business and owners of the Cagiva, Ducati, Husqvarna and Moto Morini brands) bought MV Agusta – at this point just a brand and a few historical bikes.

1995: After selling Ducati (and Moto Morini) to Texas Pacific Group, Castiglioni re-invested the money in ressurrecting the MV Agusta brand. During this period the company was restructured and changed name from Cagiva to MV Agusta.

1997: F4 750, Castiglioni’s first MV Agusta, debuts at Eicma.

2001: MV Agusta is drowning in debts. Castiglioni reportedly tries to sell a 20% share to Piaggio, but no deal is done.

2002: Unable to pay its debts, MV Agusta is put under temporary receivership.

2004: MV Agusta is saved from bankruptcy. “Proton [..] have believed in the value and potentials of our brands, and with [them] we will construct a leading force to be reckoned with on an international level”, said Castiglioni in the press release announcing that the state owned Malaysian car maker was buying a 57,7% share in MV Agusta for 70 million euros. Castiglioni kept a 37,25% share, Massimo Tamburini 2% and Electrolux, former owners of then Swedish brand Husqvarna, 3%.
Being the majority share holder, Proton also took over MV Agusta’s massive debts of 107 million euros. It’s unclear (the whole Proton shenanigans are clouded in Malaysian politics) how much they invested in MV Agusta during their ownership, but it’s safe to say they took a huge loss on their Italian adventure.

2006: A new leadership takes over Proton and promptly decides to cut their losses and sell their share in MV Agusta to an Italian investment group called Gevi Spa (acting as a front for Castiglioni) for one euro.

2007: MV Agusta sells Husqvarna to BMW for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around 90 million euros. Gevi Spa isn’t mentioned in the deal, with BMW apparantly buying the company from Castiglioni owned MV Agusta Spa. “This transaction has been carried out in order to expand MV Agusta and Cagiva presence in the international markets having more financial resources for new models development,” Castiglioni explained in the press release.

2008: Harley-Davidson buys MV Agusta (including Cagiva) for 70 million euros. 45 million goes to cover debt. Castiglioni also secured a contingent payment in 2016 “if certain financial targets are met.”

2010: Harley-Davidson pays Castiglioni 20 million euros to take MV Agusta and Cagiva back. Harley-Davidson writes off $162.7 million in losses.

What next: Castiglioni has brought in his old friend Massimo Bordi from the Ducati 916-era to run MV Agusta, hoping to recreate the glory days: “I have already won once together with Massimo Bordi, we made the most beautiful bikes in the world and we will continue with this tradition”.

That’s 15 years, countless millions of dollars, amazingly few motorcycles and a handful of creative business deals ago, but best of luck anyway.

  • uberninja

    Great job, Keith Wandell. This, in addition to the killing of Buell, has your losses in excess of $262 million in less than 10 months… that I’m aware of. I am not a Harley fan, but hopefully this guy goes away before he destroys the oldest bike manufacturer.

    • TeeJay

      “the oldest bike manufacturer”
      That is Peugeot, not HD.

      HD made a fool of itself with this business, specially considering the history of MVA. Lolz!

  • Patrick from Astoria

    $162.7 million: about 10,000 Softails. Ouch.

    Supposedly the Cagiva Mito is still for sale in parts of the world, but I wonder how much actually comes out of the Cagiva factory at this point. The brand would make a great mainstream brand to combine with MV Agusta if Castiglioni can get things organized and sorted…nah, never mind. That just seems unrealistic at this point.

  • Isaac

    I sure hope se a an actual re-design of the F4 soon. Maybe the new F3 could pave the way?

  • Sean Smith

    So MV is contributing to the eventual death of harley? That’s something I can get behind.

  • vic

    dude castiglioni senior has a gold ring with a big diamond in it
    nuff said

  • New Wing Rider

    105 Million loss on MV, 125 million loss on cutting Buell, 650 million loan at 15% interest from Warren Buffet to cover HD financial services loss. That’s almost a billion dollars. No wonder Harley Davidson continues to sell it outdated junk. They have no money do design a real up to date motorcycle. I was going to buy a new Ultra until I looked around at the Victory and Gold Wing. I bought a new Gold Wing and haven’t looked back. The Wing is light years ahead of my 08 Ultra. No more engine heat, vibration and now I have a radio that works.

    • Richard Gozinya

      I’ll never understand radios on motorcycles. Ever. The engine and the wind are all the music I need.

      • pauljones

        Amen. Part of the reason I like to ride in low-traffic areas is that when you find an open road, sometimes is nice just be able to hear yourself think.

  • JT

    Hey Grant– It’s kinda like a super cool version of someone we both know…..Slicker than come on a gold tooth. Claudio just mugged Harley to the tune of about 25 million dollars! talk about sticking it in and breaking it off!
    Say what you will about MV, but they have managed to make world class motorcycles. I mean what’s not to like? Taburini penned, Ferrari engineered, and they probably loose money on every one they sell! It’s exotic, it’s fast, reasonably reliable, and there is so much drama and high stakes wheeling and dealing surrounding the company. In a nutshell – INTERESTING. The brand itself has taken on a truly Italian flair. Look how boring Honda is in comparison. I mean really, the dude on the previous post rattling on about a goldwing……That is the most boring shit ever. Thrilled that Honda can put a functional radio on a motorcycle? Whew!! now that’s passion….
    The more I roll this around in my head, the better MV comes out. It’s not only the opposite of Honda, it’s also the opposite of Harley! How is that possible? It’s like they are reading my mind at MV Agusta….That’s it. – I just talked myself into it – I am gonna go buy one next week. — JT

  • fazer6

    I have high hopes, but pessimistic expectations.

    Time will tell.

  • toeCutter

    harley rules, you jealous bastards!

  • JT

    ToeCutter rode a Kawasaki, dipshit….JT