FRANKFURT (Reuters) - BMW (BMWG.DE) will buy Husqvarna Motorcycles for an undisclosed sum, the German premium carmaker and motorcycle group said on Friday, marking its first acquisition of a rival since its ill-fated purchase of Rover in 1994.
BMW said the takeover was a logical step in bolstering its business selling light, sporty motorcycles, which it has reinforced of late with new models of the BMW G 650 X series.
BMW and its new chief executive, Norbert Reithofer, have begun openly discussing the possibility of acquisitions as part of a strategic review. Its last major acquisition was the purchase of the Formula 1 Sauber racing team in 2005.
“With the Husqvarna models targeted at the sporty competition, we will be able to extend the BMW Motorrad range to include younger groups of customers as well as the entire off-road and supermoto sector much more quickly and effectively than with our core brand alone,” BMW’s Herbert Diess said.
“This transaction also provides us with direct access to a worldwide sales network in the off-road segment,” Diess, the general director of BMW’s motorcycle division, said in a statement.
BMW shares eased 0.2 percent to 47.69 euros by 0951 GMT, in line with European car sector peers .SXAP.
All development, sales and production activities as well as the current workforce will remain in its current location in the northern Italian region of Varese.
Husqvarna, which first made motorcycles in Sweden in 1903, built some 12,000 motorcycles last year with engine displacements ranging from 125 to 610 cubic centimeters.
It is focused on sporty off-road motorcycles equipped solely with single cylinder engines.
It belongs to MV Agusta, which Malaysia’s Proton acquired for 70 million euros ($96.7 million) in 2004 and sold early last year for the token sum of 1 euro excluding debt.
BMW Motorrad sold just over 100,000 motorcycles last year and says it is the largest European manufacturer of large motorcycles over 500 cc.
The division posted 2006 revenue of nearly 1.27 billion euros and a pretax profit of 66 million euros, employing a staff of 2,800 — over 10 times more than Husqvarna.