Sotheby’s announced this morning that the board of directors has accepted a $57 a share bid for the company:
Sotheby’s (NYSE: BID) today announced that it has signed a definitive
merger agreement to be acquired by BidFair USA, an entity wholly owned by media and telecom entrepreneur as well as art collector, Patrick Drahi. Under the terms of the agreement, which was approved by Sotheby’s Board of Directors, shareholders, including employee shareholders, will receive $57.00 in cash per share of Sotheby’s common stock in a transaction with an enterprise value of $3.7 billion. The offer price represents a premium of 61% to Sotheby’s closing price on June 14, 2019, and a 56.3% premium to the company’s 30 trading-day volume weighted average share price. The transaction would result in Sotheby’s returning to private ownership after 31 years as a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Drahi shared a letter explaining his personal involvement in the purchase:
I am very honored that the Board of Sotheby’s has decided to recommend my offer.
With my family, we are very enthusiastic to build together with its current management and their teams the future of Sotheby’s, a fascinating and multi-secular company with such a celebrated history of uniting people all over the world through culture and arts.
For my entire life, I have been passionate about this industry and I believe the opportunities and growth potential are significant for Sotheby’s.
I am making this investment for my family, through my personal holding, with a very long-term perspective. There is no capital link with Altice Europe or Altice USA.
As the future owner, I have full confidence in Sotheby’s management, and hence do not anticipate any change to the Company’s strategy. Management and their exceptional teams and talent around the world will continue to operate with my full support.
This investment will further demonstrate the anchoring of my family in the United States, a country where we have been very welcomed since the successful acquisitions of Suddenlink in 2015, Cablevision in 2016 and just recently Cheddar.
The telecom and media industries will keep being my main focus where I remain 100% committed to our businesses and to our continued growth. I will of course keep leading the management team in the development and growth of Altice Europe, as well as remain Chairman of the Board of Altice USA to support Dexter and his team who are doing a great job.
The acquisition of Sotheby’s will be funded by financings arranged and underwritten by BNP Paribas as well as by equity provided from my own funds. To help fund this transaction, I do not intend to sell any shares in Altice Europe NV; my intention is to monetize a small position in Altice USA up to $400 million by the end of the year. Due to Altice USA’s share repurchase program, the total economic stake of my holdings in Altice USA has increased over the last 12 months from approximately 34% to 38 %.
Drahi’s ownership of Sotheby’s when it closes later this year will put both major auction houses in the hands of French billionaires. Drahi owns a number of properties but his primary wealth is through Altice, the telecom company.