Friday, April 15, 2011

So who purchased Moto Morini? NOBODY , what Italy needs now is some Pride.

So who purchased Moto Morini? NOBODY , what Italy needs now is some Pride.

So the auction came and went in true Italian fanfare without a buyer.

This is an opinion piece like much of my blog, but I think what we need in Italy is pride. If you want to make a good meal, get the best ingredients. You don't offer up the best designs, names, production in the world to people who don't have your best interest at heart. Yes, some of the owners of these companies have been standing around idle as the world fell apart, but this Italy and these companies despite being private enterprises have come to represent the nation as a whole. This is the same reasoning why America didn't let General Motors fall apart.

So if you want the right buyers and the right management offer some incentives out in the open. Don't make them in backroom deals. You offer backroom deals and you will have everyone out in the streets protesting. That's why nobody will agree to anything Silvio or his brother want to do because the world and the nation is tired of it. Have some pride, offer incentives, do it out in the open, and bring in management from abroad to create some global brands.

Thanks to the Unions dislike of Paolo Berlusconi there will be no offer from the presidents brother. There were two offers on the table:

5.5 million Euro for everything including the brand, machines, assets, and the building or 2.6 million euros for the same company without the assets and just the trademark / goodwill.

Anyone with half a brain would stay away because the bankruptcy offered no incentives to to the buyer. What is attractive in a deal is when the region is willing to put incentives on the table. This is what is happening right now as I write this in Bologna with Malaguti Moto as the region, Mr. Malaguti, and different players involved meet to find a solution. The owners want out, they want to take the funds out of the retirement accounts set aside for the employees, and they want to take the proceeds of the sale of the remaining 6,000 scooters. Sadly those 6,000 scooters have zero value if there is no company behind it, even if they agree to keep a small firm open with twenty employees selling only parts. The truth is anyone with half a brain will realize after the sale of the 6,000 units Antonino is likely to fire the remaining 20 employees.

I was contacted yesterday by two potential American distributors / importers and both have money and a track record of investing in the motorcycle industry. One of them was interested in Moto Morini the other in Malaguti. I told them straight out that the only way to invest in Bologna right now is if the region puts it in writing as to the matching of Euro per Euro for the new investors, how they will deal with past debts, and how they will deal with the former owners. If Emilia Romagna doesn't get a plan together everything will end up in the hands of some Asian companies much like Benelli did. We all know how that story went and the mess it has created even in countries like America.

Not one day goes by without a dealer or consumer calling about parts for Benelli scooters formerly imported by the now closed Powersports Factory. The factory in China can't even respond to us on very simple requests. So here we are constantly waiting on parts. At least when Benelli was in Italy you would get an answer the same day even if they were on strike you would still hear back.

If the people in charge in Italy allow a similar buyout for Moto Morini or Malaguti the end result will be the same. A technology grab and an erosion of jobs in Bologna, The Italian Trade Association, and the country in generals standing as a leader in the motorcycle world. You would basically only have Piaggio Group and Ducati as the only two groups standing. Just looking at production at Piaggio Group they are already bigger producers in Asia anyways.

The future would pretty much look the same for Moto Morini and Malaguti. Chinese buyers who move production to China, leave everyone unemployed in Bologna, and take all the intellectual property. We already have plenty of Chinese Scooters in Europe and America with LATIN sounding names that are made in other countries, why would the marketplace want more?

The solution if anyone is listening in Italy is to find a group of investors who want to keep the brands alive, some production in Italy, and promote growth by creating high end luxury products China cannot currently manufacture in this sector. Sadly, few Italian managers grasp this or have the experience to make a luxury brand that appeals to the bigger Scooter markets in Australia, Great Britain, and emerging EV markets like the USA.

If you want to keep failing stick to what Antonino Malaguti did. Keep selling the same low revenue units without any innovation for ten years to fifteen year olds on 50cc scooters and watch the company fall into oblivion. If you want change allow foreign buyers to come in, but give them incentives in writing. I keep talking to people, but nothing is in stone. You want a global brand around Moto Morini or around Malaguti. Not something that begins and ends in Bologna. Give the workers that out there protesting something to be proud of again.

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