Dealbook is perhaps making a bigger deal out of Daniel Loeb joining fellow board members in a show of support for Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht. Loeb’s victory was not resounding enough to have his own way with company and the stock’s recent slide below $40 (an important ceiling/floor) only redoubles the need for all parties to work together to create and implement a long-term strategy for the company.
The run-up to the board fight was clearly damaging to Sotheby’s and it ability to win the best material:
By having the three sign on to the letter, Sotheby’s board is trying to show concerted support for Mr. Ruprecht after some have questioned his future as the auction house’s chief. When Mr. Loeb and his firm, Third Point, first took aim at the company last fall, he accused the executive of overstaying his welcome while being paid a salary invoking “the long-gone era of imperial C.E.O.s.”
Ultimately, the activist investor called for Mr. Ruprecht’s firing. But several months later, as Mr. Loeb intensified his assault, he dropped that demand.
After a prolonged battle between Sotheby’s and Third Point — one that the hedge fund was expected to win had it gone to a shareholder vote — the two sides settled. By that point, Mr. Loeb had softened his tone, saying in a statement, “As of today we see ourselves not as the Third Point nominees but as Sotheby’s directors, and we expect to work collaboratively with our fellow board members to enhance long-term value on behalf of all shareholders.”