With rumours flying fast and furious that auto maker Volkswagen (VW) would be putting up premier Italian performance motorcycle brand Ducati up for sale, as soon as the end of July, a Reuters report says the German company’s supervisory board has slammed the brakes on the deal. VW has allegedly been conducting a review of its assets since a June 2016 announcement it would be making a shift to electrification as part of a corporate plan dubbed “Strategy 2025”.

However, VW’s supervisory board which presides over and decides on asset sales, in the form of its labour union leaders, has said no sale of Ducati, or other assets such as transmission manufacturer Renk or truck maker MAN, will take place in the absence of “compelling financial reasons”. The 20-member supervisory board is made up of a 50-50 split between corporate management and workforce representatives.

“The employee representatives on Volkswagen’s supervisory board will neither approve a sale of Ducati, nor one of Renk or MAN Diesel & Turbo,” a spokesman for VW group’s works council told Reuters. “Everyone who can read the VW half-year results should know: We don’t need money and our subsidiaries are not up for grabs by bargain hunters.”

In consideration of a sale of certain brands, including Ducati, VW’s bankers were instructed to explore options and examine expressions of interest. An unnamed source said that with strong opposition from the union, VW is now putting the planned asset sale under review as it has no wish to be at logger-heads with labour over a disputed turn-around plan.

While Ducati is owned via VW’s Audi brand, the VW group supervisory board has to review any possible asset sale. The sale also did not receive support from the Porsche or Piech families, who own a controlling 52% voting share in VW. The government of Lower Saxony, the district in Germany where VW has six plants and 100,000 workers, with two seats on the board, also declined support.

“The management board has not even asked the supervisory board of Volkswagen, where such sales have to be ratified, for its approval,” the works council spokesman said. “Therefore we advise all supposedly interested parties: Save your time to check any books. A sale will not happen.”

It was reported five bidders for the Ducati brand were identified, including Italy’s Benetton family, with offers received valuing the brand at 1.3 billion-1.5 billion euros (RM5.57 billion-RM6.43 billion). When news of the possible sale of Ducati broke last year, several interested parties were rumoured to be considering a purchase, among them big names in motorcycle manufacturing such as Harley-Davidson, Bajaj, Eicher Motors and Hero Motorcorp, as well as investment firms Permira and CVC Capital.

Audi purchased Ducati from Italian equity firm InvestIndustrial for 962 million USD (RM4.1 billion) in 2012 and was rumoured to have considered divesting itself of the brand last year. Ducati had sales of 593 million euros (RM2.81 billion) in 2016 with 55,451 units sold, representing a sales growth of 1.2%.