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by Jay Traugott
The truth is always in the last place you look.
Last April Audi reportedly bought Italian motorcycle company Ducati for a cool $1.1 billion. While many (including us) were surprised by the purchase, we assumed that VW Group Chairman Ferdinand Piech, a longtime admirer of Italian supercars, simply wanted to expand his automotive industrial empire into the world of motorbikes. And why not - both Honda and Suzuki are longtime motorcycle builders as well as fellow German automaker BMW.
However, in a new report coming from Autoblog and originally scooped by Asphaltandrubber.com, it appears that Audi is not the actual owner of Ducati after all. Lamborghini is. The truth appears to have come out after Audi AG published their 2012 Interim Financial Report, which confirmed that Audi bought 100 percent of Ducati's shares. What's strange is that the statement also discloses that they paid less for the company than what was originally reported. The report states that the actual purchase price was €747 million (about $980 million) but the real kicker here is that Lamborghini, not Audi, was the brand behind the deal.
To clarify this further, Lamborghini is now the formal owner of Ducati and they both fall under Audi's jurisdiction within the VW Group. Basically, Audi purchased Ducati with Lamborghini's money on the latter's behalf. So why all the secrets? Sources claim that it's a matter of national pride and the ever increasing issue of European emissions standards. For starters, Ducati is now owned by a fellow Italy-based company. More important is the fact that the EU is still cracking down on vehicle emissions, something Lamborghini is not looking forward to.
By acquiring Ducati, Lamborghini can now cleverly combine the emissions numbers from their high-displacement supercars with a brand whose vehicles burn far fewer emissions. In other words, Lamborghini has found a way to beat the system (for now) through a smart business maneuver. Well played, indeed.