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Sotheby’s Shareholders Approve $3.7 Billion Sale to French Telecom Titan Patrick Drahi

With plans to go private by the end of the year.

Altice group's Chairman Patrick Drahi poses for photographers at the Scopus Awards of the French Friends of the Hebrew University, in ParisFrance Scopus Award, Paris, France Thibault Camus/AP/Shutterstock

Sotheby’s shareholders voted on Friday morning in approval of the proposed acquisition of the auction house by Patrick Drahi, with 91 percent of voting shares counting in favor. An acquisition agreement between Sotheby’s and the French-Israeli media mogul’s company BidFair USA was reached in June, for a deal that valued the company at $2.7 billion. Sotheby’s said the deal remains on track to close between October and the end of 2019.

Tad Smith, Sotheby’s CEO, said in a release, “This is an historic moment for Sotheby’s and we are very pleased to have the validation of the company’s shareholders.” Under the deal’s terms, shareholders (including employees with shares of the company) will receive $57 in cash per share of Sotheby’s stock. This puts the agreement’s enterprise value at $3.7 billion.”

Domenico De Sole, chairman of the board of directors at Sotheby’s, said the offer “delivers a significant premium to market for our shareholders, including our employee shareholders, and positions Sotheby’s well for the future.”

The deal would make Sotheby’s privately-held for the first time since 1988—placing it in company with chief competitors Christie’s and Phillips.

A view of Sotheby's offices in New York, New York, USA, 17 June 2019. The auction house announced on 17 June that it will purchased by telecommunications entrepreneur Patrick Drahi in a deal reported to be worth $3.7 billion (USD).Sotheby's to be purchased and taken private, New York, USA - 17 Jun 2019

Sotheby’s New York  Justin Lane/Shutterstock

When the agreement was originally announced this summer, Larry Gagosian told ARTnews, “It’s certainly a vote of confidence for the art market. They are clearly banking on art prices continuing to rise.”

The 55-year old Drahi, who is an art collector as well, is the founder and controlling shareholder of telecom company Altice, and his net worth is valued at $9.1 billion, according to Forbes. He said in a statement in June, “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.”

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