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  • Jun 18, 2019

Sotheby’s Acquired In USD 3.7 Billion Deal


Sotheby’s has been acquired by BidFair USA, a company owned by French-Israeli media magnate and art collector Patrick Drahi, in a deal worth USD 3.7 billion. The auction house announced on June 17 that it had signed a definitive merger agreement with BidFair, returning to private ownership after 31 years as a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Per the terms of the agreement, all shareholders will receive USD 57 in cash per share of Sotheby’s common stock, representing a premium of 61 percent to company’s stock on June 14, and a 56.3 percent premium to its 30 trading-day volume weighted average share price, according to the press release.

Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith remarked: “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.”

Drahi commented in the same statement: “Sotheby’s is one of the most elegant and aspirational brands in the world. As a long-time client and lifetime admirer of the company, I am acquiring Sotheby’s together with my family.” He added in a separate statement issued by his personal office: “As the future owner, I have full confidence in Sotheby’s management, and hence do not anticipate any change to the Company's strategy.”

Founded in London in 1744, Sotheby’s went public in the United Kingdom in 1977 before being sold to American businessman Alfred Taubman in 1983. It went public again in the United States in 1988.

The BidFair-Sotheby’s transaction, expected to close in the final quarter of 2019, will result in the world’s two largest auction houses being held privately by French billionaires. Sotheby’s archrival, Christie’s, was sold in 1998 to French holding company Artemis, owned by François-Henri Pinault.

Xuan Wei Yap is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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