It's Official: Harley Sells MV Agusta Back to Claudio Castiglioni

Nearly two years ago to the day (on 8/8/08), Harley-Davidson purchased Italian manufacturer MV Agusta with the intention of extending its reach into the high-end sportbike market. Barely a year later, H-D announced the intention to divest themselves of the subsidiary, and today the Motor Company formally announced the finalization of the sale back to MV’s former owner and president, Claudio Castiglioni.

There’s no official word about a transaction price yet, but my Harley contact tells me that, “[Harley-Davidson] is filing the 8K with SEC after market hours today,” meaning we’ll have a sale price on Monday.

MV Agusta responded with an official statement with the subject heading, “MV Agusta is Italian Again!,” with a quote from Mr. Castiglioni mentioning that, “MV Agusta is the crown jewel of Italian motorcycles, I am thrilled to have completed this transaction.”

Though Italians have reason to be triumphant about the fabled marque’s return to its home country, the transaction represents a bittersweet milestone for Harley, especially since the all-new F4 proved to be such a shockingly good superbike.

This marks the end of an era, in more ways than one.

Update: according to the 8/10/10 edition of the Wall Street Journal, “In the filing Harley said it “contributed 20 million Euros to MV as operating capital” that was put in escrow and is available to the buyer over a 12-month period. The buyer is Claudio Castiglioni, who, with his brother Gianfranco, ran MV Agusta for years before selling it to Harley two years ago for about $109 million… Harley has previously write-downs totaling $162.6 million for the fair value of MV Agusta and began treating the unit as a discontinued operation after announcing its intention to sell it a year ago. The company said it anticipate additional related losses from discontinued operations in the third quarter of 2010.

“A footnote: there is a certain element of should-have-known-better in this story. this isn’t the first time Harley-Davidson has had a hard time with an Italian acquisition. In the 1960s it bought a stake in Aermacchi, a maker of small off-road bikes as a way to expand into new markets. Eventually it bought the whole company, but thatmove also eventually failed and Harley sold Aermacchi in the late 1970s. The sellers and buyers: the Castiglioni brothers.”

Photo Basem Wasef; Click for 2010 MV Agusta F4 Review

It's Official: Harley Sells MV Agusta Back to Claudio Castiglioni