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Rumor Control: Ducati, Harley to Merge?
All Ducked Up or a Match Made in Hog Heaven?

By Gabe Ets-Hokin
June 2007


The June 12th edition of London’s Financial Times contained an interesting article: When asked if it was true that Ducati and Harley-Davidson were discussing a merger, Ducati CFO Enrico D’Onofrio said his company would consider it “anytime.” Although he wouldn’t confirm or deny the rumor of talks between the two firms, he did say that Harley-Davidson representatives had been to the Ducati factory and that a merger with the American company would be “totally complementary.”

Hmmm. There certainly has been some history between Milwaukee and Italy. It was Aermacchi, remember, that supplied H-D with its two-strokes—street and racing—in the 1960s and early ’70s. Aermacchi became a Cagiva property, and it was Cagiva who rescued Ducati from the throes of Amministrazione Controllata, sort of a state-administered bankruptcy, back in 1984, before eventually selling off the brand.

So I called John Paolo Canton, Ducati North America’s public relations coordinator. Yes, he’d heard that rumor floating around for a long time. Nothing to it, far as he knew. Next on my speed-dial was Harley-Davidson Product Communications Manager Paul James. He told me he knew nothing about the rumored merger. And then he kind of laughed.

Of course, both men work for publically traded companies. Could they say anything even if they knew? Were they covering up for a CFO with loose lips? If you think about it, such a merger wouldn’t be the worst thing ever. For those who think Harley is interested only in cruisers, walk into a Buell store and check out an XB12R, a sweet-handling sportbike with innovative styling and an air-cooled V-Twin that makes about 90 hp and weighs around 450 pounds. Sound familiar? That’s the formula Ducati has been following for years, and the two companies even share the same frame supplier, Verlicchi! And ever since the ill-fated Indiana foray in the mid-’80s, Ducati has sworn off cruisers, but that’s a big chunk of the lucrative American market to ignore. Maybe Ducati shareholders were asking hard questions?

However, a short conversation with Ducati N.A. CEO Michael Lock convinced me that the merger was nothing but an accountant’s pipe dream. Sure, he said, Harley personnel were at the Ducati factory, but that’s not unusual; manufacturers have relationships with each other, sometimes working on joint projects. “(Other companies’) people see us and then we see them all the time,” said Lock. Besides, Ducati has undergone major restructuring in the last two years, with a new majority shareholder, a new board of directors and a new CEO with a very aggressive strategy for growing sales worldwide—and it’s working. According to Lock, the company is doing fine on its own, thanks very much: “We’re on an upward momentum, with a three-year plan, and the last thing we want now is a partner or parent.”

Of course, in this crazy world, things could change overnight, but it seems unlikely to me. So those of you hoping to buy a Ducati-branded cruiser or a Harley desmo roadracer any time soon will probably be disappointed.

Source: Cycle World
 

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NNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!! don't do it

arghhhhh


cough


splutter



keh?
 

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It would hurt Ducati. In my eyes. Vice versa. I cant see either crowd going along with the outcome. But if you look at it as a overall view as a rider and not foreign to American owner then maybe. But I just picture this big 900lb machine trying to take a turn at 100+ knee draggin and all:headscratch :puke
 

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Apparently the rumor mill was hot this month.............
FRIDAY, June 22, 2007, 1:42 p.m.
By Rick Barrett


Sketchy Harley report stirs trading

Trading in options to buy Harley-Davidson Inc. (HOG) shares surged to a record on speculation that the company may be acquired by competitor Honda Motor Co.

Bloomberg News reported that the number of call options jumped to 42,074 contracts, an all-time high, after a writer/analyst for California-based Optionetics.com reported rumors of a potential takeover. Forbes.com early this afternoon reported "dubious" rumors that Honda was a potential suitor.

In a telephone interview with the Journal Sentinel, Optionetics writer/analyst Frederic Ruffy said he knew little about Harley and that he did not cover the company as an analyst.

"But I cover the options market, and I look for unusual activity," he said. "Based on what was going on with Harley-Davidson's options, it seems like people are expecting an announcement."

Ruffy went on to say that he checked several investor Web sites and found rumors that Honda was interested in acquring Harley.

"But I have no idea whether those rumors are credible," he said.

"My gut feeling is that I don't see a takeover of Harley Davidson. At this point I think that it is pure speculation," said George Ries, president of George Reis Investment Group, in Two Rivers.

Harley-Davidson spokesman Bob Klein declined to comment.

Harley shares were up 4% to $62.40.
 
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