Aprilia Motorcycles Gets Cash Injection

Italy's motorcycle industry resuscitated by new funding, production to resume. By Art Friedman.

Aprilia Motorcycles, which was facing bankruptcy last week, has been rescued by an infusion of new credit. Production of Aprilia motorcycles and scooters, which had been stopped when suppliers found they were being paid, will resume. The company indicated that its subsidiary brands, Moto Guzzi and Laverda, will be retained and supported.

The releases that follow say that Aprilia plans to address its financial problems with "reorganization initiatives designed to gain cost savings and operating efficiencies." It also says it will continue to look for new investors. Neither of the releases we have see mentions how Aprilia's racing efforts will be affected, though the company's pricey MotoGP program has been seen as a likely target in cost-savings programs. We have asked Aprilia USA spokesmen about that issue and also for any comment on how this and the declining value of the U.S. dollar might affect American pricing but have not received any comment as this is written. We will post any information we get here.

Considering that worldwide demand for motorcycles and scooters is increasing and that Aprilia's products have been well received and its brand recognition is growing, the company would seem to be in a healthy position if it can be more efficient. However, it will need to arrive at the efficiency quickly to keep up with its new debt.

The offical announcements from Aprilia USA and excerpts from the European release follow.

This is the release from Aprilia USA:

_Aprilia Announces New Round of Business Funding

U.S. market record-setting growth contributes to high demand for Italian manufacturer's award-winning motorcycles and scooters

Woodstock, GA (May 6, 2004) — Aprilia SpA, the Noale, Italy based manufacturer of award-winning motorcycles and scooters, today announced new credit lines for $30 million Euros as well as renewal of existing lines, for a total global line of credit of $180 million Euros. The financing agreement was reached with the assistance of a consortium of financial institutions, including Interbanca and Caretti & Associati. This new round of funding allows Aprilia to resume full production and satisfy high market demand as the main riding season gets underway in most parts of the world.

Demand has been especially strong in Aprilia's growing U.S. market. Despite being a relative newcomer in the market—the company established its U.S. subsidiary in 1999—American consumers have embraced the Italian manufacturer's award-winning line of scooters and motorcycles. Aprilia, which offers more scooter choices than any other manufacturer in the U.S. market, just posted its best April sales month ever, increasing total unit sales 30.6% over April, 2003. In addition to strong scooter sales, Aprilia's high-performance super sport bikes and adventure touring bikes continue to win awards for their thrilling combination of ride characteristics, technology and style.

This new round of funding allows Aprilia to concentrate on an industrial plan and continue its growth by leveraging its extraordinary know-how and brand popularity. The industrial plan will include reorganization initiatives designed to gain cost savings and operating efficiencies. In addition, Aprilia will continue to proactively discuss business investment opportunities with financial and/or industrial investors to ensure that necessary resources are in place for continued growth of the company's prestigious Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and Laverda brands.

About Aprilia USA

Aprilia is Europe's second largest motorcycle and scooter manufacturer. Founded in 1968 and headquartered in Noale, Italy—just outside Venice—the company is privately owned and has eight subsidiaries in key world markets. Aprilia World Service USA, Inc. is the company's U.S. importer and distributor. The subsidiary is headquartered in Woodstock, Georgia, just a few miles north of metro Atlanta and at the entrance to some of the best riding roads in America. Aprilia USA's 128 U.S. dealerships offer a full line of performance motorcycles and scooters, as well as electric bicycles. For information on Aprilias complete model line, visit www.apriliausa.com. _

Here is the European press release:

_Aprilia is pleased to announce to have reached the business financing agreement with the pool of Banks with whom the issue was under discussion in the last few weeks. Interbanca and Caretti & Associati supported Aprilia in the negotiation process.

The agreement grants new credit lines for a total amount of 30 millions Euro and the renewal of the effectiveness of the existing ones.

With this new deal the global amount of credit lines granted to the company is around 180 million Euro.

As a result of this agreement, Aprilia will be able to resume the production at full speed and satisfy the high demand of bikes coming from the market approaching to its main important part of the season.

Aprilia is the second European largest manufacturer of scooters and motorbikes with a range of products that covers 50 cc mopeds and 1000cc super bikes. This positive outcome of the deal plan will enable Aprilia to concentrate on the industrial plan and continue its growth by exploiting its extraordinary know-how and brand popularity.

The industrial plan will have a first step of reorganization that will enable cost saving and more operational efficiency. Followed by a second step inviting inward investors either financial or industrial to assure the necessary resources to support the growth of prestigious brands of Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and Laverda._

Aprilia is looking forward to a brigher, er, Futura.