A deal is said to have been agreed for Volkswagen's Audi brand to purchase Ducati from its private equity owner Investindustrial for 'around' 860 million euros ($1.12 billion).
According to the Reuters
report, citing 'two people familiar with the matter', the deal includes debts of 'well below' 200 million euros.
Reception from the financial community appears mixed, with one analyst saying: "The purchase does have a trophy feel to it, in the sense of something you might mount up on the wall next to the stag you shot last year.”
Another added that the deal showed just how much VW's 17 billion euro pile of cash was burning a hole in its pocket.
VW seems to have attempted to limit such criticism by using Audi to buy Ducati.
'Audi can claim rival BMW also has a motorcycle business to enhance its sporty image, thus lending the deal a figleaf of justification,' commented the Reuters
The deal is expected to be formally approved by VW during a board meeting on Wednesday.
The VW Group owns car brands Lamborghini, Skoda, Seat, Bentley, Audi and Bugatti, plus MAN and Scania trucks.
Ducati makes around 40,000 motorcycles a year and is one of three remaining manufacturers competing in MotoGP, where it runs Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden in its factory team, plus two further satellite entries.
Outside of MotoGP, which it entered in 2003, Ducati is the most successful manufacturer in the history of the World Superbike Championship and won last year's title with Althea's Carlos Checa.