Mercedes says its formal tie-up with Ducati is still in place and will remain valid unless the Italian bike company is sold.
Yesterday Audi was linked with a buyout of Ducati, even though the motorcycle firm has an existing marketing cooperation agreement with Merc offshoot AMG. That deal, established in 2010, was seen by many as a precursor to Mercedes purchasing Ducati.
But with Audi emerging as the favourite to to buy the firm – and take on its considerable debts – from parent company Ducati Motor Holding, a Mercedes spokesman said: "We have an agreement [with Ducati] and until such time that any purchase of Ducati is confirmed, either by Audi or anyone else, we will continue this agreement along the lines we have set out."
Volkswagen Group chiefs have remained similarly tight-lipped about the prospect of Audi buying the motorcycle brand. VW's chief executive Martin Winterkorn would not confirm or deny the rumour during yesterday morning’s VW Group profits press conference in Germany.
Ducati sells around 35,000 motorcycles per year. VW top brass have long been keen to add a motorcycle brand to their group’s portfolio, which includes Volkswagen cars, Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Volkswagen commercial vehicles and truck companies Scania and MAN.