Aprilia's acquisition of Moto Guzzi not only ensures a future for Italy's most historic motorcycle marque, it also brings to a conclusion one of the most drawn-out Dutch auctions in two-wheeled history. After Austria's KTM dropped out of negotiations to take over Moto Guzzi last December there appears to have been a collective realization among Guzzi shareholders that-with less than 2000 bikes registered in 1999 in the Italian home market which has traditionally represented the bedrock of Guzzi sales-the company was on the brink of collapse. Thus, said shareholders decided to auction Moto Guzzi amongst the four Italian two-wheeled manufacturers capable of resurrecting the marque: Aprilia, Cagiva, Ducati and Piaggio. It's understood that Ducati offered the highest price for Moto Guzzi-$67.5 million. Aprilia's top bid was just $61 million-but with the crucial bonus that, being a private company, Aprilia boss Ivano Beggio was able to sign a deal on the spot. Ducati couldn't move so fast, having to gain shareholder approval before raising any more cash for this specific purpose. With Guzzi's owners desperate to sign a deal, time was against Ducati.