KTM Buys GasGas

Jean Turner | September 30, 2019

KTM AG (soon to be renamed to Pierer Mobility AG) has expanded its umbrella to now include GasGas Motorcycles. Black Toro Capital, the company that owns the Spanish-based Torrot-GasGas manufacturer, entered into a business alliance with KTM, which has acquired a 60% stake in GasGas.

“A cooperation was signed and both partners see this as a starting point for a bright future of the international well-known brand GasGas. New models will be developed alongside the Trial and Enduro bikes of GasGas,” stated a release from KTM AG, adding, “the production of GasGas products and Torrot electric vehicles will be continued in Girona/Spain.”

KTM Buys GasGas
KTM has just snapped up a majority share in rival manufacturer GasGas.

Torrot-GasGas, owned by Black Toro Capital, has been wrestling with financial difficulty after a reported decrease in sales of more than 50% in 2018, and a debt of 23 million euros. According to Diari de Girona in Catalonia, Torrot-GasGas laid off 20 employees and furloughed dozens more in May of 2019. https://www.diaridegirona.cat/economia/2019/05/08/treballadors-ero-gasgas-/979057.html

The company’s financial hardships go back to 2015, when GasGas filed for bankruptcy. As the manufacturer faced liquidation, there were rumors that the KTM camp was interested in purchasing the company. Despite denials from KTM that they had any interest in doing so, a group from KTM and Pierer Industry reportedly visited GasGas in July, 2015. The Austrians were met with a very hostile display at the Girona facility, which included a burning pile of tires and a KTM-clothed effigy hanging from a noose outside a window with a sign reading “KTM this is not your home” in German. See the full story here. https://www.cyclenews.com/2015/08/article/ktm-receives-heated-welcome-at-gas-gas-headquarters/

The outspoken GasGas workers, who did not want to endure the same fate as the now defunct Italian Husqvarna plant in Varese, succeeded in finding renewed ownership for the company. The Contreras family and the Torrot Group purchased the brand in 2016 through the backing of Black Toro Capital, ensuring the survival of the Girona facility and its near 100 employees. Since then, the GasGas brand increased its presence in the off-road sector, revealing new models and a stronger distribution in the U.S.

Amid rumors of more financial troubles in 2019, GasGas North America Operations Manager Mark Berg reached out to Cycle News several weeks ago to set the record straight, maintaining that the GasGas brand was still running strong in the U.S.

“GasGas had a very successful 2017 with the new 2018 models in that time frame,” said Berg. “They did $40 million in sales that year and $30 million of it was GasGas sales. Only 10 of it was Torrot sales. But Torrot decided to take that cash and invest more into electric, more into green energy and they kind of left GasGas holding the bag for 2019 R&D and 2020 R&D. That’s where the Black Toro Capital said enough is enough. GasGas is the company that is profitable. We’re going to take control of that.” Read the full report here: https://magazine.cyclenews.com/i/1151987-cycle-news-2019-issue-31-august-6/42

Ramon Betolaza, managing partner of BTC, says the joint venture with KTM “Guarantees a bright future for our brand and for the Girona plant.

“It is a great step forward in our GasGas consolidation project as a world leader in trial. It allows us to develop a new growth phase for GasGas, incorporating new motorcycle models with cutting-edge technology with the best possible partner.”

Worker unions, which were so strongly opposed to the KTM acquisition four years ago, reportedly no longer oppose the idea as KTM assured them in a statement that it would maintain production at the Girona plant.

“We consider GasGas a fantastic European plant,” KTM’s Hubert Trunkenpoltz told Catalonia publication SER. “Combining the two product lines of companies makes a lot of sense.” https://cadenaser.com/emisora/2019/09/27/radio_girona/1569581062_536787.html


Jean Turner | Contributor A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.