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auto | IST

Harley Davidson’s hunt for a strategic partner gathers pace

Harley Davidson which has been reviewing its India operations as part of its global rewire strategy announced in July 2020, is now in talks with two of India’s largest automobile manufacturers Mahindra & Mahindra and Bajaj Auto for strategic partnership, sources told CNBC-TV18.
On July 28, Harley Davidson had announced that it plans to exit markets where volumes and profitability do not match the continued investment. “The company also plans to shift resources and marketing investments into regions for maximum impact," said the company.
Industry sources say the company is looking for a strategic partner for India operations on account of low sales.
According to CNBC-TV18 sources, Harley Davidson has held talks with M&M's subsidiary Classic Legends. Classic Legends, which resurrected the Jawa brand and also owns iconic brands like BSA & Yezdi, is said to be exploring a strategic partnership with the US motorcycle manufacturer for the Indian market. When contacted, a Mahindra spokesperson said that the company did not want to respond to market speculation.
Harley Davidson has also reached out to KTM and Bajaj Auto and is exploring an alliance for its India operations, said a source requesting anonymity.
Bajaj Auto did not comment on the story.
Bajaj Auto has a 48% stake in Austrian motorcycle maker KTM and also has a non-equity partnership with Triumph Motorcycles to build mid-capacity motorcycles for India and global markets.
CNBC-TV18 had earlier reported that Harley Davidson was looking to outsource its India operations to a domestic manufacturer and exit the Indian market in the coming months.
Sources at Harley Davidson say it is business as usual for the company’s India office and there has been no change in domestic operations. “We do not comment on rumours and market speculation," said a Harley Davidson spokesperson in India when asked about the company’s talks with M&M and Bajaj Auto.
Harley Davidson has held talks with Hero MotoCorp in the past. In February, there were reports that the company was exploring a partnership with Hero in order to expand its manufacturing and distribution footprint. Hero MotoCorp has not commented on the status of those negotiations.