Ducati & Texas Pacific Group – A ”Wild Ride” Leveraged Buyout
1. What is the nature of the opportunity? Could the Ducati brand be expanded beyond motorcycles? Why or why not? TPG strategy is to invest in undervalued firms’ that usually have been poorly managed. The investments are made in privately hold firms that are either unlisted from the beginning or that is being delisted from the stock exchange under the LBO process. TPG wants to invest in firms with a “healthy” basis but that are experience some problems that TPG believes’ that they can fix. Does Ducati live up to this?
TGP has the opportunity, if the deal goes through, to purchase a controlling stake in Ducati Meccanico, producer of the best motorcycles in the world. The article describes that Ducati was in a great position of becoming for street bikes as what Harley-Davidson was for cruisers. They have a recognized brand, in spite of limited marketing, associated with high performance, i.e. high quality and high technology. Their bikes crushed the competition and won the World Superbike championships for several years in a row; 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1995. Their racing performance indicated on technical brilliance which is just what street bike customers’ prefer and therefore they had customers on the wait lists to buy their bikes. The core business possible growth was considered as high when comparing their number of sales to Harley-Davidson sales. In addition, to this the market didn’t foresee any new entrants of street bikes which also work in their favor. The manufacturing fundamentals were strong with low fixed costs due to high levels of outsourcing, 85 %. They offered the customers 15 models of bikes in four families founded on seven various engines. Furthermore, the most expensive part of an engine is the crank cases and cylinders but Ducati can keep these costs low since they have high levels of standardization of their engines and therefore only need two crank cases and three cylinders because.
All these factors’ make Ducati look like an attractive brand that should have a prosperous economy. But they were under great financial pressure and faced severe problems in both manufacturing and financing. They had no money and weren’t allowed to borrow any either which caused extreme delays on payments to key suppliers. Therefore their factor was full of unfinished/almost-finished bikes. This affected their sales and extended their customer wait lists but it also affected suppliers and some of them went bankrupt. Ducati were short on working capital and the business was so entangled with Cagiva Group, which Ducati was a part of, that the detail’s on Ducati’s performance was not transparent at all. In the time span from 1993 to 1995 there was only a reliable balance sheet from 1995. TPG managed to assemble the profit and losses for the other years. All this together indicates a really poorly handled management. The forecasted EBIT for 1996 was negative and there was an imminent chance that Ducati went bankrupt since they couldn’t meet there payments. This lack of transparency has made it hard to find financing.
TPG can succeed if they manage to build a model that captures their payback goal times three in three to five years. They need to find out what the Ducati should be earning and around these assets construct an international company. TPG can expect to take over a mismanaged company under financial pressure/distress but that have great potential in their strong brand and manufacturing fundamentals. To make this work they need to use a capable management team that can build up both the brand and the company. They need arrange the financing to be able to recover from the distress and to start making some money. But as they state in the article they will have to write at least a thousands of checks on their first day.
Ducati brand could and should probably be extended beyond motorcycles even though a first step is to close the deal, take...
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