Today we learned that, after some speculation, the Norton Motorcycle Company has been sold and is now under Indian ownership. Norton was purchased by TVS Motors, India’s third largest motorcycle manufacturer.
Background (the story so far)
If you are one of the 14,000 people who watched my last video on Norton then you’ll be all in the loop on what happened up until now. If not, I suggest you check that out first. I’ll embed it under this paragraph. In that video we talk about con artists, convictions, swindled pensioners, ripped off motorcyclists, and why on earth Norton needed to buy 12 Aston Martins when they didn’t have enough money to pay off their suppliers.
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If you haven’t watched the Norton video above (or read the article about it), or you aren’t up to date with what’s been happening up until now, the rest of this story will be like starting from the middle and trying to move your way forward. That works really well with Star Wars, but not so well with the news. Now that you know the back story…
How did TVS Motors of India end up buying Norton?
According to a report from the United Kingdom government, there were 331 parties interested in acquiring the Norton Motorcycle Company after Stewart Garner was finished absolutely running it’s name through the dirt. Of the 331 interested parties, only about half filled out the necessary non-disclosure agreements, and of the 169 parties that did that, only 29 of those parties actually made formal offers.
At this point, Norton Motorcycles was in a grey zone: If no offer was accepted, the Norton Motorcycle Company would be dissolved and have it’s assets liquidated. If one of the 29 offers was accepted, the company would go on, in whatever form the winning bidder decided. TVS Motors is that winning bidder.
Questions about Norton’s future during the biding process
Of course, ever since the whole Stuart Garner debacle, motorcyclists at large have had some serious concerns about Norton’s future, should the company continue:
- What would happen to those who had been ripped off by Stuart Garner and all the financial damage Norton had done during his time as owner? That includes not only pensioners who lost their pensions but also motorcyclists who had put deposits or paid in full for bikes that were never completed.
- Considering Garner had sold certain plans and rights of Norton’s motors to Chinese investors, what would the next Norton motorcycle, if there was one, run on?
- After all the damage done to Norton’s brand and to the company’s most loyal fans, what would Norton as a brand, be really worth, in the future?
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What do we know about TVS Motor Company?
There are so many unanswered questions, so let’s focus on what we do know: TVS Motor Company is India’s third-largest motorcycle manufacturer, and they’ll be taking full control of the 122 year old British company.
From the early reports that I’ve read, it also seems like part of the purchase includes TVS having zero responsibility for Norton’s previous debts. This is bad news for anyone who’s lost money to Norton under Stuart Garner’s ownership. If you put money down for a Norton, or even paid for one in full, but never received it, well, unfortunately, you still aren’t likely to be getting one. At least, as far as we know right now.
Sudarshan Venu, joint managing director, TVS Motor Company said:
“This is a momentous time for us at TVS Motor Company. Norton is an iconic British brand celebrated across the world, and presents us with an immense opportunity to scale globally. This transaction is in line with our effort to cater to the aspirations of discerning motorcycle customers. We will extend our full support for Norton to regain its full glory in the international motorcycle landscape. Norton will continue to retain its distinctive identity with dedicated and specific business plans. TVS Motor will work closely with customers and employees in building the success and pre-eminence of the Norton Motorcycles brand and we look forward to growing together globally in the years to come.”
What are the numbers?
Venu’s words on the Norton deal are likely deliberately vague. He and TVS aren’t making any specific promises be it in terms of investment in Norton or what future operations or goals for the company could look like. So, since Mr. Venu won’t give you anything tangible to think about, I will:
TVS Motor Company acquired Norton for roughly GBP 16 million, or about $20,000,000 USD. TVS has annual revenues of about $2.8 billion and are capable of producing and selling 3 to 4 million small displacement motorcycles and other light vehicles per year. They’re India’s third largest motorcycle manufacturer and second largest exporter, selling vehicles in over 60 countries around the world.
What does each company bring to the table
TVS and Norton operate in different markets, in almost entirely different worlds, as a result, the two are coming from opposite areas, but combined, there is a wealth of knowledge that could be shared and exchanged.
TVS knows how to do a lot of things that Norton couldn’t:
- They know how to put a large assortment of motorcycles into production
- They know how to produce large quantities of vehicles
- They know how to distribute bikes all over the world
But, there are a few things that Norton knows and bring to the table:
- The know-how to create and market a premium, exclusive brand
- Name and brand recognition in the western market
- A history of British achievement, if we ignore the last few years…
Maybe what’s most important for Norton’s future however, isn’t necessarily the exchange of ideas, but something more fiscal. TVS has rich, deep pockets, the likes of which Norton hasn’t seen in decades. TVS has cash reserves to pump into a project like Norton, and if they choose to really invest in the brand, and not cheapen it down, they could turn Norton’s history for the better.
Closing thoughts / Request for comments
If you watched my last video on Norton you’d know this isn’t Norton’s first time going overseas. The company was at one point Canadian-owned, than American-owned, before returning back to the United Kingdom, but I’m curious to hear from you.
- Is TVS buying Norton a good thing? Is this a happy day for motorcycling and British motorcycling specifically, or a sad one?
- Will they invest in it heavily or just treat it as a cute little pet project off to the side of their main business?
- Will the bikes they produce be better or worse?
- Will they do the right thing and try to make reparations to all of the people who lost money to Norton under Stuart Garner’s ownership?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section down below!