Sotheby’s Auction House to Be Taken Private in $3.7 Billion Sale
LONDON — The auction house Sotheby’s will be bought by the telecommunications entrepreneur Patrick Drahi in a deal worth $3.7 billion, the company said on Monday.
The acquisition of Sotheby’s by BidFair USA, which is owned by Mr. Drahi, returns the only publicly traded major auction house to private ownership after 31 years on the New York Stock Exchange.
“Patrick Drahi is one of the most well-regarded entrepreneurs in the world, and on behalf of everyone at Sotheby’s, I want to welcome him to the family,” Tad Smith, Sotheby’s chief executive, said in a statement. “This acquisition will provide Sotheby’s with the opportunity to accelerate the successful program of growth initiatives of the past several years in a more flexible private environment.”
Sotheby’s reported a loss of $7.1 million for the first quarter of this year after reporting a $6.5 million loss for the same period a year earlier.
“Following a comprehensive review, the board enthusiastically supports Mr. Drahi’s offer,” Domenico De Sole, the chairman of the Sotheby’s board, said in a statement. Shareholders will receive $57 in cash per share of the company’s common stock, a 61 percent premium on its closing price on Friday, $35.38. Sotheby’s shares rose more than 55 percent in early trading Monday after the deal was announced.
Mr. Drahi, a French-Israeli billionaire, said he was honored that the Sotheby’s board had recommended his offer. “As a longtime client and lifetime admirer of the company, I am acquiring Sotheby’s together with my family,” he said.
He said the investment would be made through a personal holding with “a very long-term perspective” and that he did not anticipate making any changes to the company’s strategy.
Mr. Drahi, who founded the telecom company Altice in the Netherlands in 2001, has been on a spending spree in recent years. Altice acquired Cablevision in the United States in 2016 as part of an effort to become a leading cable and broadband provider there.
Mr. Drahi’s statement said he remained “100 percent committed” to the telecom and media industries.