We wrote about the rumor before, here’s the story now that it’s official:
Milwaukee, Wis., July 11, 2008 — Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE: HOG) today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to purchase the Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta Group (MVAG). Under the agreement, Harley-Davidson will acquire 100 percent of MV Agusta Group shares for total consideration of approximately 70 million euros ($109 million), which includes the satisfaction of existing bank debt for approximately 45 million euros ($70 million). In addition, the agreement provides for a contingent payment to Claudio Castiglioni in 2016, if certain financial targets are met. MV Agusta Group is privately held, with the Castiglioni family owning 95 percent of MVAG shares.
The acquisition is expected to close in several weeks, pending the satisfaction of contingencies and receipt of regulatory approvals. Harley-Davidson intends to fund the transaction primarily through euro-denominated debt.
MV Agusta Group has two families of motorcycles: a line of exclusive, premium, high-performance sport motorcycles sold under the MV Agusta brand; and a line of lightweight motorcycles sold under the Cagiva brand. MV Agusta’s F4-R motorcycle, powered by a 1078cc in-line four-cylinder liquid cooled engine, is rated at 190 hp. The company sells its products through about 500 dealers worldwide, the vast majority of them in Europe. In 2007, MVAG shipped 5,819 motorcycles. During 2008 MVAG has significantly slowed production due to financial difficulties.
“Motorcycles are the heart, soul and passion of Harley-Davidson, Buell and MV Agusta,” said Harley-Davidson, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jim Ziemer. “Both have great products and close connections with incredibly devoted customers. The MV Agusta and Cagiva brands are well-known and highly regarded in Europe. They are synonymous with beautiful, premium, Italian performance motorcycles,” Ziemer said.
Harley-Davidson, Inc. plans to continue to operate MV Agusta Group from its headquarters based in Varese, Italy. Following closing, the first priority will be to appoint a leadership team to include a new Managing Director and to resume the manufacture of current models.
Current MV Agusta Group Chairman Claudio Castiglioni will continue in a leadership role as Chairman and will play a major role in future product development. Design Chief Massimo Tamburini will continue his leadership of MV Agusta Group’s world leading sport-bike design studio.
“We take enormous pride in MV Agusta and Cagiva motorcycles,” said Castiglioni. “Our riders seek an uncompromising experience in premium performance motorcycles. And with Harley-Davidson’s deep understanding of the emotional as well as the business side of motorcycling, I have great confidence that our motorcycles will excite customers for generations to come.”
According to Ziemer, the acquisition is intended primarily to expand Harley-Davidson, Inc’s presence and footprint in Europe, complementing the Harley-Davidson and Buell motorcycle families. Retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles have grown at a double-digit rate in Europe in each of the last three years, as the Company has increased its strategic focus on global markets.
“The acquisition of MV Agusta Group will enhance Harley-Davidson, Inc’s position as a global leader in fulfilling customer dreams and providing extraordinary customer experiences. We look forward to a long relationship with the MV Agusta and Cagiva families of customers and employees,” said Ziemer.