French Billionaire to Purchase Sotheby's Auction House

French Billionaire to Purchase Sotheby's Auction House

French telecoms and media mogul Patrick Drahi is acquiring Sotheby’s auction house, one of the world’s biggest art brokers, in a $3.7 billion deal, the British-founded company announced June 17th. Drahi, the billionaire founder of the Altice empire which owns SFR telecoms company and several French media houses including BFM news channel and Liberation newspaper, is paying $57 per share to acquire Sotheby’s through his company BidFair USA, the art house said.
His foray into the art market sees him follow in the footsteps of fellow French billionaire, Kering chairman Francois Pinault, who acquired a majority stake in Sotheby’s rival Christie’s in 1998. The deal returns British-founded Sotheby’s to private ownership after 31 years as a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.  Its shares soared 58 percent in afternoon trading in New York on news of the offer, which represents a 61 percent increase over Sotheby’s closing price the previous Friday.
Drahi, France’s ninth richest individual with an estimated net worth of $9.1 billion according to Forbes magazine, said that he was “honoured” that Sotheby’s board had recommended to shareholders that they accept his offer.
“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,” he said.
The deal, which is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, is expected to be finalised in the fourth quarter of 2019 and comes as prices fetched by artworks at auction soar. Last month Sotheby’s sold a Monet painting from the Impressionist’s celebrated “Meules” (Haystacks) series for $110.7 million, an auction record for the artist.
Drahi said his investment was aimed at the “very long term” and that he had no plans to change Sotheby’s business strategy.

French Billionaire to Purchase Sotheby’s Auction House