Moto Guzzi Motorcycles Could Be Sold

Aprilia's cash crisis and looming bankruptcy may cause it to sell Moto Guzzi to pay the bills.

As a result of a financial crisis at its parent company, Aprilia Motorcycles, Moto Guzzi may be sold. Speculation has Ducati as the most likely buyer, and Ducati has announced that it will make an offer in the next few weeks.

Aprilia beat out Ducati for the ownership of Moto Guzzi a few years ago, but now Aprilia has encounted a cash crisis. It is unable to pay suppliers, who have cut it off, shutting down production. Its banks have given it until May 3 to come up with the 7.4 million euros it needs. The Italian government has created a commission to solve the problem and protect the 650 jobs of Aprilia workers.

Aprilia's problems seem to have several roots. Scooter sales have fallen off in the home market in the last few years. The devalued dollar means less income on the Italian end. Aprilia's acquisitions of Moto Guzzi and perennially struggling Laverda, another Italian marque, have probably also been cash drains. Finally, Aprilia's participation in MotoGP roadracing presents a substantial cash drain.

Quickly raising the cash to meet its obligations might require Aprilia to sell Moto Guzzi, particularly if Ducati or some other buyer is interested and ready to buy. Aprilia has also said it is willing to sell interests in itself to address the problem. Booming motorcycle sales worldwide should make it relatively easy to find someone who wants a piece of Aprilia or the ownership of a smaller one, like Guzzi. Canada's Bombardier is reported to have an interest in acquiring some of Aprilia.

Moto Guzzi is the only Italian company that sells cruiser motorcycles in the U.S., and its sportbike line is more conservative than the cutting-edge Aprilia and Ducati sporters. Some see Moto Guzzi's motorcycles as a perfect complement to Ducati's bikes.