The 275-year-old British auction house has just announced the final agreement of its acquisition by French-Israeli businessman and collector Patrick Drahi, making the institution a private company.
A wave of surprise has shaken the auction market: the British auction house Sotheby's has just signed the definitive agreement stipulating its acquisition by BidFair USA, an entity in the possession of media and telecom entrepreneur, and founder of Altice USA and Altice Europe, Patrick Drahi. Under the terms of the agreement, which was approved by the Board of Directors of the auction house, the Sotheby's shareholders and employee shareholders will receive $57 per share, in a transaction valuing the company at $3.7 billion.
The redemption premium is 61% higher than that of the last share price on Wall Street on June 14, 2019. The firm is therefore returning to private hands, like Christie's, after 31 years spent on the New York Stock Exchange.
Sotheby's director Tad Smith described Patrick Drahi in a statement as "one of the most well-regarded entrepreneurs in the world". According to Smith, the objectives and values of the businessman, in terms of customer service and innovation, are consistent with those of the brand, and will allow Sotheby's to accelerate its growth in a private environment and more flexibly.
Domenico De Sole, Sotheby's Chairman of the Board, said, “Following a comprehensive review, the Board enthusiastically supports Mr. Drahi’s offer, which delivers a significant premium to market for our shareholders. After more than 30 years as a public company, the time is right for Sotheby’s to return to private ownership to continue on a path of growth and success.”
Patrick Drahi, 55, is an entrepreneur at the helm of a world-renowned telecommunications and media empire. Drahi founded Altice in Europe in 2001 and for almost 20 years acquired and built telecommunication systems around the globe, transforming Altice into a broadband, media, digital and advertising.
“I am honored that the Board of Sotheby’s has decided to recommend my offer," commented Patrick Drahi. “Sotheby’s is one of the most elegant and aspirational brands in the world. As a longtime client and lifetime admirer of the company, I am acquiring Sotheby’s together with my family. We thank Domenico and the rest of the Sotheby’s Board for its support and look forward to getting started with Tad and the wonderful members of his team to define our future.”
The completion of the transaction is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory approval and shareholder approval, but is not contingent upon the availability of financing. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, following shareholder approval.
Cover image via Hemlow