February 13, 2012 / 1:10 PM / 8 years ago

Private equity owner looking to sell Ducati: FT

Ducati Moto GP rider Valentino Rossi smiles as he rides a Ducati Desmosedici Seater during the "Wrooom, F1 and MotoGP Press Ski Meeting", Ducati and Ferrari's annual media gathering in Madonna di Campiglio January 12, 2012 in this handout released by the Wrooom 2012 Press Office. REUTERS/Wrooom 2012 Press Office

LONDON (Reuters) - The Italian private-equity owner of Ducati is looking to sell the motorbike brand for up to 1 billion euros ($1.32 billion), three times its initial investment, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

Investindustrial, which is backed by the Bonomi family, had sounded out a Hong Kong public listing for Ducati in 2011 but a sale to a rival or large car group was more likely now, the FT said.

People close to the situation told the paper that possible buyers could include Indian motorcycle group Mahindra (MAHM.NS), as well as Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and BMW (BMWG.DE).

“Ducati is now a perfect company but the further growth it requires needs the support of a world-class industrial partner,” Investindustrial’s chairman Andrea Bonomi told the paper.

“This year, we will work towards that partner.”

In November, Ducati chief executive Gabriele Del Torchio said the motorbike maker had raised its share of the markets where it operates around the world to 10.7 percent, up from 8.5 percent in 2010.

A spokesman for BMW said the motorcycle manufacturer best known for its R 1200 GS Adventure enduro and the S 1000 RR supersports bike was not interested in a purchase of Ducati.

Volkswagen declined to comment. VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech, who said he drives Ducatis himself, admitted a few years ago that he regretted not having acquired the brand back then when Ducati could have been bought “for peanuts.” ($1 = 0.7582 euros)

Reporting By Drazen Jorgic, additional reporting by Christiaan Hetzner in Frankfurt; Editing by John Mair and Helen Massy-Beresford

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