French tycoon buys Sotheby’s for US$3.7bn

Franco-Israeli media tycoon and art collector Patrick Drahi has acquired auction house Sotheby’s for US$3.7 billion it has been announced.

The move returns Sotheby’s, which is one of the world’s leading fine wine and spirits auctioneers, to private hands after 31 years as a public company. Shareholders were reportedly paid $57 per share and the final offer represented a premium of 61% on Sotheby’s closing price on 14 June this year.

Sotheby’s CEO, Tad Smith, said: “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. Known for his commitment to innovation and ingenuity, Patrick founded and leads some of the most successful telecommunications, media and digital companies in the world.

“He has a long-term view and shares our brand vision for great client service and employing innovation to enhance the value of the company for clients and employees. This acquisition will provide Sotheby’s with the opportunity to accelerate the successful programme of growth initiatives of the past several years in a more flexible private environment. It positions us very well for our future and I strongly believe that the company will be in excellent hands for decades to come with Patrick as our owner.”

Drahi added: “I am honored that the Board of Sotheby’s has decided to recommend my 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. 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.”

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