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Volkswagen withdraws Ducati sale amid unions’ opposition

LiveMint logoLiveMint 30-09-2017 Tommaso Ebhardt

Milan: Volkswagen AG halted the possible sale of its Ducati motorcycle unit amid persistent opposition from its powerful labour groups, according to an Italian union leader.

“Ducati’s CEO told workers Friday that the VW supervisory board decided to halt the sale process,” Bruno Papignani, regional head of FIOM CIGL union, said in a phone interview. “IG Metall sustained and helped Ducati workers in their request to remain inside the VW group which should keep investing in our company.”

Volkswagen considered selling Ducati as part of an asset review that started last year to examine options for operations that aren’t a fit for its car and truck focus. VW’s Audi luxury division, which owns Ducati, hired Evercore Partners Inc. to advise on strategic options, people familiar with the matter said in April. A Ducati spokesman declined to comment on the sale process. A spokesman for VW wasn’t available outside working hours.

A sale of Ducati could have beefed VW’s cash by as much as €1.5 billion ($1.8 billion). The company reported a surprise charge of about €2.5 billion in the third quarter as plans to buy back or retrofit tainted US diesel cars proves more complex, bringing total damages from the two-year-old scandal to over €25 billion.

Ducati had picked five bidders in July that were expected to make binding offers by October, people familiar with the matter said in July. Those included the Benetton family holding company Edizione Srl and former owner Investindustrial Spa. The bidders valued Ducati up to €1.5 billion, the people said.

Retaining a business with hardly any overlap with other parts of VW’s sprawling automotive empire will likely raise questions about the asset review in a strategy revamp through 2025. Failure after months of work is a fresh blow to Audi, VW’s largest profit contributor, which faces a management overhaul.

Audi bought Ducati from Italian buyout firm Investindustrial for about €860 million in 2012. Investindustrial took a controlling stake from another private equity firm, TPG, in 2006. Bloomberg

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