Daimler to buy 25% of motorbike maker MV Agusta
FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Daimler will buy a 25 percent stake in Italian motorcycle manufacturer MV Agusta as part of a long-term cooperation deal which gives the German car and truck maker access to lightweight three-cylinder engines.
Daimler said on Friday it will buy the stake via its Mercedes-AMG performance cars unit and will take a seat on the board of directors at MV Agusta -- a legendary name in the sport of motorcycling, having won at least 75 world championship driver and constructor titles.
Daimler did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.
Cooperation between the two high-end brands will include marketing and sales, Daimler said.
The deal follows a similar move by Daimler rival Volkswagen Group, which bought Italian motorcycle maker Ducati for 860 million euros in 2012.
Buying a stake in Agusta will give Daimler access to a range of high-performance three-cylinder engines that the Italian company has developed for its superbikes.
Interest in lightweight engines has increased as tougher anti-pollution rules push manufacturers to make greater use of smaller engines which can be used as "range extender" add-ons to complement electric engines in hybrid vehicles.
At the Paris auto show, Volkswagen presented the high-tech XL Sport hybrid equipped with a 200-hp two-cylinder Ducati engine.
Rival BMW has also made use of a three-cylinder engine from its motorcycle unit to power the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar. BMW also makes superbikes.
A motorbike for a King
MV Agusta largely disappeared in the 1970s and its rebirth in 1992 under motorcycle entrepreneur Claudio Castiglioni and renowned designer Massimo Tamburini created the F4 superbike, one of which belonged to King Juan Carlos of Spain and was loaned out to the Guggenheim Museum for an exhibit.
In the past 10 years, however, the brand has repeatedly come under financial duress and gone through several owners that included Harley-Davidson and Malaysian state-owned carmaker Proton. It was bought back in 2010 by Castiglioni shortly before he died, and is now run by his son.
The motorcycle maker, with 260 employees at its headquarters on the shore of Lago di Varese in northern Italy, has a product portfolio of three- and four-cylinder models ranging from 675 to 1100 cubic centimetres engine displacement.
Tobias Moers, chief executive of Mercedes-AMG, said: "In MV Agusta, we have found the perfect two-wheel partner for Mercedes-AMG. The partnership provides us with an entry into a world of additional high-performance enthusiasts."
Giovanni Castiglioni, president and CEO of MV Agusta, said: "Mercedes-AMG will help MV Agusta to further expand globally and to accelerate our growth."
Earlier this month, sources told Reuters that Daimler was in talks with MV Agusta about taking a stake.
The partnership is subject to the approval of the relevant authorities, expected to be granted in late November.