French billionaire Patrick Drahi to acquire Sotheby's for $3.7 billion
18 June 2019
French billionaire Patrick Drahi, who controls telecoms and media group Altice, on Monday agreed to buy US art auction house Sotheby’s in a deal worth $3.7 billion.
Drahi has offered to pay $57 in cash per share, which is a 61 per cent premium to Sotheby’s closing price on Friday, to buy out the auction house. The offer gives Sotheby’s a market capitalisation of $2.6 billion.
Sotheby’s said the acquisition would be done through BidFair USA, an acquisition vehicle set up by Drahi.
The acquisition marks the art auction house’s return to private ownership after 31 years.
Founded in London in 1744, Sotheby’s had the distinction of being the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Sotheby’s expanded overseas in the 20th century, moving to New York in 1955, Asia and then France in 2001.
Drahi said he would be funding the takeover through financing arranged by French bank BNP Paribas and by equity provided by his own funds.
Drahi who has also been selling non-core assets in recent years to ease concerns over the debt levels of his businesses, said he would not be selling shares in his Altice Europe business, but would be cashing in a small stake in his Altice USA division.
“I am making this investment for my family, through my personal holding, with a very long-term perspective,” said Drahi, adding that the takeover also highlighted how his family had been settling down in the United States.
BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley advised Drahi, while LionTree Advisors worked on behalf of Sotheby’s.
Famous items sold by Sotheby’s include the collections of the late Duchess of Windsor, the personal collection of artist Andy Warhol and Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” in 2012.