Breaking News. Polaris Buys Indian Motorcycle Limited.

After weeks of speculation and although Indian Motorcycle refused again to confirm my information last week, it’s now official. Polaris has bought Indian Motorcycle. Having met personally with Indian’s Chairman Stephen Julius in 2006 before the official launch of the new Indian Chief, I knew that his objective, like he did with his other ventures, was to sell the company as soon as it became profitable. Was it already? This afternoon at 5 pm, Polaris faxed to all its dealers to announce the acquisition of Indian Motorcycle Limited. I publish below the official statement.

Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII) today announced the acquisition of Indian Motorcycle. The business was acquired from Indian Motorcycle Limited (“IML”), a company advised by Stellican Limited and Novator Partners LLP, U.K. Private Equity firms. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We are excited to be part of the revitalization of a quintessentially American brand,” said Scott Wine, CEO of Polaris Industries Inc. “Indian built America’s first motorcycle. With our technology and vision, we are confident we will deliver the classic Indian motorcycle, enhanced by the quality and performance for which Polaris and Victory are known.”

With this acquisition, Polaris adds one of motorcycling’s legendary brands to its strong stable of Victory cruiser and touring bikes. Indian will operate as an autonomous business unit, building upon the potent combination of Polaris’ engineering acumen and innovative technology with Indian’s premium brand, iconic design and rich American heritage.

“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Polaris. Polaris will utilize its well-known strengths in engineering, manufacturing, and distribution to complete the mission we undertook upon re-launching the brand in 2006: harness the enormous potential of the Indian brand,” said Stephen Julius, chairman of Indian and managing director of Stellican. “Polaris is the most logical owner of Indian Motorcycle. Indian’s heritage brand will allow Polaris to aggressively compete across an expanded spectrum of the motorcycle market.”

Novator Partners LLP is a London based alternative investment firm founded and led by the investor Mr. Thor Bjorgolfsson. An avid motorcycle enthusiast, Mr. Bjorgolfsson said “After a troubled past, our goal was to bring the legendary Indian bikes back on the roads. The initial phase of that project is done and now our great partners at Polaris will carry on the work to realize the full potential of this classic American brand.”

Conference Call and Webcast Presentation
Tomorrow, April 20th at 9:00AM (CT), Polaris Industries Inc. will host a conference call and webcast to discuss the acquisition, as well as the first quarter 2011 financial results. The call will be hosted by Scott Wine, CEO, Bennett Morgan, President and COO and Mike Malone, Vice President-Finance and CFO. A slide presentation and link to the audio webcast will be posted on the Investor Relations page of the Polaris website approximately 30 minutes before the conference call begins.

To listen to the conference call by phone, dial 800-374-6475 in the U.S. and Canada, or 973-200-3967 internationally. The Conference ID is #36643140. A replay of the conference call will be available approximately two hours after the call for a one-week period by accessing the same link on our website, or by dialing 800-642-1687 in the U.S. and Canada, or 706-645-9291 internationally.

About Polaris
With annual 2010 sales of $1.991 billion, Polaris designs, engineers, manufactures and markets off-road vehicles (ORVs), including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and the Polaris RANGER® Side X Side vehicles, snowmobiles and Victory motorcycles for recreational and utility use and has recently introduced a new on-road electric powered neighborhood vehicle. Polaris is a recognized leader in the snowmobile industry; and one of the largest manufacturers of ORVs in the world. Victory motorcycles, established in 1998 and representing the first all-new American-made motorcycle from a major company in nearly 60 years, are making in-roads into the cruiser and touring motorcycle marketplace. Polaris also enhances the riding experience with a complete line of Pure Polaris apparel, accessories and parts, available at Polaris dealerships.

Polaris Industries Inc. trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “PII”, and the Company is included in the S&P MidCap 400 stock price index. Information about the complete line of Polaris products, apparel and vehicle accessories are available from authorized Polaris dealers or anytime from the Polaris homepage

About Indian Motorcycle
Founded in 1901, Indian was America’s first motorcycle company, producing some of the industry’s most iconic models and becoming the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer. In recent years, Indian has continued to produce these legendary motorcycles on a smaller scale. The company’s instantly recognizable badge is still associated with premium products and strong American heritage by casual consumers and motorcycle enthusiasts alike. For more information on Indian, visit Indian Motorcycle.

About Stellican
Stellican is a U.K. Private Equity firm specializing in the purchase, turnaround and re-launch of iconic, heritage brands which have gone bankrupt. In the last ten years, Stellican has been particularly active in the power sport industry. It currently advises funds which own Chris-Craft Corporation, a premium boat and yacht builder based in Sarasota, Florida, which it acquired in 2001. Previously, Stellican advised funds which owned Riva boats in Italy.

Zipper's

133 Responses to “Breaking News. Polaris Buys Indian Motorcycle Limited.”


  1. 1 Walter L. Apr 21st, 2011 at 6:48 am

    The last thing I have ever known Art Welch to be is a ‘hater’. Although I may not personally like the idea of the merger, he is right on the money with this one, and in my experiences, has always been pretty open minded to other riders. I call BS on BS!!!

  2. 2 MDSPHOTO Apr 21st, 2011 at 10:25 am

    While I totally understand the historical significance of the Indian Brand & legacy, this is a poor business decision on the part of Polaris. Indian’s on the market/off the market history is not all do to poorly managed business plans, but rather the fact that this is a niche company that appeals to a minute segment of motorcycle buyers.

  3. 3 John White Apr 21st, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    keep seeing the following phrase in various press releases: “The business was acquired from Indian Motorcycle Limited (IML), a company advised by Stellican Limited and Novator Partners LLP, U.K. Private Equity firms.” What the hell is this advised nonsense? They owned Indian flat out so why the subterfuge? Never heard of Novator until now, check out the supposed Russian mob connection: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novator_Partners Check out the section titled “Owners” Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B6rg%C3%B3lfur_Thor_Bj%C3%B6rg%C3%B3lfsson

    The interesting thing is that Noator is owned by Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson who is the feller who bought the Sniper bike from Thunderstruck Customs in Medford Oregon (this is the bike with the CH engine with inside out intake/exhaust ports) http://www.thunderstruckcustombikes.com/bikes/sniper/sniper-big.html

    Question: Is the Gilroy era (and its copy cat Stellican Indian Chief) dead? I cannot see Victory selling those bikes. Just asking? Does anyone know? What are they telling the dealers?

  4. 4 1550tc Apr 21st, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    John White

    thanks for that link on the sniper ………nice low life chassis bike

  5. 5 rdawsoniii Apr 22nd, 2011 at 11:55 am

    If this means Indian is here to stay, with reliable, lower cost bikes and a widely available dealer network….then that is a good thing.

    What’s past is past….don’t mean a thing anymore. Let’s see what Polaris does with this.

  6. 6 Hondo Cat Apr 22nd, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Polaris spoke about Indian being their heritage line for die-hard bikers. But Indian wasn’t solely about swooping fat fenders. They were innovators! Indian was the USA’s first motorcycle company (1901) and introduced the first V-twin to the world (1907). They produced the first Big Twin motors, the first two-speed transmissions, first adjustable front suspensions, and first electric lights and starters. Also, the genuine Indian Motorcycle Company felt that racing improved the breed with one of the most comprehensive factory competition program in the business.

    I just hope Polaris has an innovative vision for Indian based on THAT heritage.

  7. 7 Hondo Cat Apr 22nd, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    By the way, racing doesn’t just mean sport bike road racing. Drag racing or Land Speed Racing (LSR) are just as valid.

    I like flatheads. Kiwi Indian Mike Thomas has engineered and produced a 42 degree, 84ci, V-Twin flathead engine that’s built for durability and reliability and would look great in an old school, skinny tire, production bobber or board track racer. That’s what I mean by innovation. It just has to be something that is new or different than the established way. That is only one model, say a scout model.

  8. 8 Hondo Cat Apr 22nd, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    That should read Tomas, not Thomas. Sorry, Mike!

  9. 9 Lyle Apr 22nd, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Indian was not the USA’s first motorcycle company nor the first American company to mass produce them. The Gilroy and KM era companies were lying when they stated they were “Americas First Motorcycle. The original company knew better and they were “America’s Pioneer Motorcycle,” which is still a stretch. Hopefully Polaris will turn the name into something that is respected as well as it was 60 years ago. And hopefully they’ll let all the original Indian parts suppliers stay in business.The problem with flat heads is they are not efficient and therefore run hot. I like and own them too but they are simply not suitable for high speed all day running on the Interstate. If Polaris re-designs the engine,(they should) it won’t be a flat head.

  10. 10 Bruce Rogers Apr 22nd, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Kiwi Mike makes fake old Indians. At least the new Indians are made by Indian.

  11. 11 Mark Apr 23rd, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I recently went to a demo ride that Victory had and I am impressed by everything except for their price and the constant heavy influence of Arlen Ness. Ness does great stuff, but his designs get tiring on an entire line of motorcycles. Hopefully, the Indian name will lead them in some other directions for design.

  12. 12 Hondo Cat Apr 23rd, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    From Lyle: “The problem with flat heads is they are not efficient and therefore run hot. I like and own them too but they are simply not suitable for high speed all day running on the Interstate.”

    In my view, if you feel the need to ride on the Interstate that means you are under time restraints and simply didn’t leave early enough……..I make it a point to NOT ride on the Interstate when ever possible. It defeats the whole ambiance and totality of the riding experience. Plus, you miss the small town stops along the way.

  13. 13 Terry Apr 23rd, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    I own a 2002 Indian Chief. It still runs great, always draws a huge croud where ever I go and intimidates the heck out of Harley owners. Way to go Polaris.

  14. 14 Seymour Apr 24th, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Terry, maybe they are intimidated that someone so dumb as to spend that much money on a nothing motorcycle is out there on the road with them. Safety, is what I’m getting at. Too subtle?

  15. 15 Lyle Apr 25th, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Hondo Cat, I agree. But if I’m shelling out that kind of dough for a bike, it’d better damn well be able to run the Interstate all day. Sometimes, when you only have a week off, you need to get to your destination as quickly as possible. Most of us are not retired. Else, I’ll buy another original for less and have the real deal. I hope Polaris does something with the brand.

  16. 16 Ken Apr 25th, 2011 at 10:09 am

    There’s nothing left of the original Indian in any of this. Polaris just bought a name.

  17. 17 Lyle Apr 25th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Bruce,
    Kiwi has used the name and had permission longer than Gilroy, or KM. His “Indians” although improved, retain the original design. In my mind they are more original than the modern OHV harley based design ones. I agree with Ken but I really hope Polaris makes the name respectible again.

  18. 18 Scott Apr 25th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Come on Bruce, what hole did you crawl out of?
    Don’t be rediculous. The Indian brand has been torn to shreds by garbage motorcycles, dirtbikes, and mopeds for almost 60 years. Remember the tiwan moped “Indian 4” for 4 stroke, JC’s, Royal Enfields, you name it. I asked an original Indian (Battle Creek, MI) dealer what his favorites were after they went out of business, he said the only bikes he enjoyed after they went out were the velocettes. Enfields? Total Junk.

    What Polaris bought was an american icon, a brand namelike chevy, budweiser, HD, coca cola, you name it.
    What they do with it may be exciting, but what does Indian bring to the table? Quality? Clearly, no. Original, creative design? No, it’s a copy cat “gilroy”, whatever you want to call it.
    I was in front of the Indian dealer in Daytona during bike week, it was like a trip to comedy hour. A gilroy chief wet sumped all over the sidewalk, while gawkers pointed out they were dropping oil. Two workers droped a Spirit off the trailer onto another mechanics head, promptly followed by a thorough shower of expletives by the owner. This is beside the point, the overall vibe I got from the place was not good. I was only there for an hour tops.

    What makes Indian unique is that to this day, there is a HUGE network of parts suppliers for the old bikes. I’m not aware of any antique bikes that have the same kind of network.

    What Polaris needs to do is take advantage of this somehow, not fight it, such as trademark infringement. Kiwi Mike, the Starks, Jerry Greer, are all potential PARTS SUPPLIERS for a vintage remake of the bike. I would go for a 101 scout the day it hit the floor. A ’48 Chief? A Four? Mike’s Board Track Racer? All sweet bikes, timeless designs. If they brought the price down I would be giddy as a school girl. The interest is there, I’m only 25 and I’m addicted to these bike. I would consider selling everything I have to own one.

    Maybe the EPA would stand in the way with CAFE standards, but it would harness Indian’s all ready loyal fanbase to the antique motorcycle market. I keep up just fine on the highway with a stock scout, they’re pretty easy to fix and maintain, although they could use some updates like closed bearings and maybe EFI. But why water down a good thing, when the product is all ready there?

  19. 19 Fonte Apr 28th, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I predicted it when Stelican made the move to acquire Indian; based on their history of re-establishing significant historical brands, they developed a respectable product and turned it Over to a big industry player for a profit. This is what they do. Just as GM MANUFACTURERS many brands, Indian will remain INDIAN. victory certainly has the acumen to recognize the value of the icon and will enhance quality and affordability.

  20. 20 IndianFan Apr 28th, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    If Polaris knows what’s good for them and the Indian brand, they will consult Art Welch. He seems to know what he is talking about. Is he an original Indian dealer from the original company?

  21. 21 gene Whittier Apr 29th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I own a Harley but would buy the newest rendition if it was priced close to what Harley is .Indian built bikes in Canada before ww 1 . and the name is well known in Canada. Harley dealers will probably more competitive . Competiton is good

  22. 22 Buck Adams Apr 30th, 2011 at 3:48 am

    It’s true that Polaris bought an iconic brand name but they did get something else too, a look, a style that has been in the mind of motorcycle riders and motorcycle builders for some time. One of Victory’s few weaknesses was the lack of “heritage” and if the Indian brand doesn’t remedy this, it at least gives Polaris some leverage to pry its way into finding that kind of buyer. If Polaris continues the way it has been going eventually it will be on equal footing with Harley, if not a superiour position. The other thing Victory lacks is an entry level motorcycle. I don’t see Indian as a remedy for that. But who knows?

  23. 23 D. Presley May 4th, 2011 at 7:56 am

    To my knowledge the Harley clone “S&S” engined Indians were of the previous Gilroy, California manufactured Indians and ended in 2004. This new Indian never used S&S at all. It used the Indian developed re-designed “Power Plus 100” bottle cap head engine which thru R&D was greatly improved in many ways. This should dispel any association to a so called Harley clone type. It definitely has its own identity as it should, along with more modern technology Fuel injection etc.. This should be a viable alternative and give nostalgic motorcycle enthusiasts a real Historical American legend re-visited.

  24. 24 Bummer May 5th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I was very disappointed to find out that polaris bought Indian, a very sad day. I have had problems with my polaris and the dealer never rectified the issues. Too bad so sad was the attitude. I own Harleys, indian, polaris, and yamahas. I can speak on there quality and customer service. The Indian is not a Harley, from the engine and most all aspects. I do get great comments on the style and design of the Indian.
    Polaris has already screwed up, the current owners will not be getting a stage one upgrade for engine preformance (Indian was making these with no issue). Then I find out they are going to shut down there plant in North Carolina and move manufacture to Iowa or to one of the other Polaris plants.
    I thought the new Indian would make inroads with there new design.

  25. 25 SPyKER May 7th, 2011 at 10:16 am

    So, does that mean that we can expect a four-wheel Indian?

  26. 26 choppermike May 7th, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    If anyone consulted art welch on what to do with a company… well, I’ll just stop there.

    The KM Indian is plagued with issues that have yet to be remedied. Sales are dismal, service is worse, and trying to get parts is as bad as it gets. There are a lot of things that keep this brand from being a major player. When someone buys a bike after researching the company, model, and dealer, the sale doesn’t end when they drive off the lot and neither does the buyerws experience. Polaris needs to tidy up a bit here, and get rid of a lot of .problems to get this company back on track. Problems from sourcing parts to getting rid of the.problem dealers that are ruining the customers experience.

  27. 27 Art Welch May 8th, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Really Mike?

    Our sales have not been dismal. Our dealership is not struggling. Should we Consult YOU on what to do with Indian? Polaris will do just fine. And being that Polaris head quarters is now in our backyard.. well.. it just doesn’t get any better than that.

    By the way.. Read up

    http://www.thunderroadsminnesota.com/new/magazine/issues/03_11.pdf

    Page 20 & 21 of the Mag.

  28. 28 G-Four Jun 7th, 2011 at 10:12 am

    The Indian name gets passed around again like a bottle of cheap wine. Only the bikes are not so cheap. Must be hard to be a loyal Indian fan. Sure hope Polaris can stabilize the brand once and for all, with tech and dealer improvements. Still don’t think HD has anything to worry about.

  29. 29 BirdsEyeView Jun 7th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Great interview in the mag Welch. If it weren’t for all your harsh responses on this site, I would think you were a good guy. Too bad.

  30. 30 Freddt Jun 10th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Indian came back in 2006 under the influence of some old, big v-twing, uber high end cruiser nostalgic high dreamers. From the get go, they passed up the opportunity to put an affordable motocycle into the hands of people who wanted to ride and put the Indian Logo on the road. They didn’t get their motorcycles out there on the road – end of story. In stead of going after “this American generation,” they went for $30K road jewerly and $500 motorcycle jackets.

    End of the story, you have to get people on your motocycle and you have to get your motorcycles seen on the road, seen at clubs, seen touring, and into peoples hands. Henderson did the same thing not all that long ago. They build a motorcycle that didn’t have a market. In the next 5 years Royal Enfield will sell more motorcycles than Indian will sell in 50.

    Beginning in 1901, Indian did not build it reputation by designing and building a motorcycle / Cruise Ship. Let’s see Indian build a hot red, classy looking thing with those round c-heads in the class of a Sportster 1200, or dare them, a 650cc single piston thumper that will blow the Enfield off the map, then take the American Indian to India and China.

    Indian, Polaris, it is a new world order, play to win.

    Me? Build me a bomb proof, 1,000 cc Indian, no bells, and no whistles, – period. In the history of Indian, when they haven’t done that, when have they ever, ever ever, been successful?

  31. 31 john oneill Jul 4th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Great news – hope they will start selling in the UK at a realistic price and be a match for the niche market of Harley’s

    Good luck to Polaris with your new and exciting acquisition

    John

  32. 32 john Aug 27th, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    i have several original indians , i was disappointed in the over the top modern styling of the gilroy indians, most of the people who want an indian want an indian that really looks like an old indian
    with the modern stuff, mike at kiwi indian is repoping chiefs from the 30s thru the 50s, with modern stuff , even electric start.
    so i hope they restyle the line up, and drop the price , in 2003 a chief cost 24,900.00 today the same bike is 35k and it is still the same bike that was a tough sell at 25k. i sincerely hope the guys at polaris do it!!!
    john

  33. 33 Daryl Sep 11th, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Good greif . Polaris making the Indian motorcycle. There lack of mechanical knowledge and experience coupled with their poor machining skills and equipment will further degrade the great Indian marque.

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