German automaker Audi is reportedly in exclusive discussions with Investindustrial to acquire Ducati.

British automotive publication CAR Magazine cites high-level sources within Audi in reporting the car maker has won first dibs to negotiate a deal. Audi reportedly has until mid-April to decide whether to buy out Ducati.

Investindustrial is reportedly asking for a billion euros (US$1.3 billion) for Ducati but Car reports Audi is offering just about 850 million euros (US$1.1 billion) while agreeing to pick up the tab on Ducati’s billion dollar deficit (estimated at about almost 800 million euros).

Audi is a member of the Volkswagen Group, with VW owning a 99% stake. The Group’s Chairman Ferdinand Piech is reputedly a big Ducatisti with several Ducs in his garage, and Ducati fits nicely into the Group’s other properties. Rumor has it Piech once had the chance to purchase Ducati for just 1 euro (again, while assuming its debts in the process).

If negotiations between Audi and Ducati fall through, there are other potential suitors out there. India’s Hero MotoCorp is reportedly interested in acquiring Ducati while Mercedes-Benz‘s performance arm AMG has also been linked, thanks to its cross-promotional sponsorship deal with Ducati and its MotoGP team.

[Source: CAR via AutoGuide]

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