A fourth Sotheby’s shareholder, Phillip Stevens, has filed a lawsuit to block the auction house’s proposed $3.7-billion sale to French-Israeli telecom tycoon Patrick Drahi. The suit was filed on August 1st in New York, and its terms echo similar complaints recently filed by shareholders Eli Goffmna, Shiva Stein, and Michael Kent—namely that the house and its financial advisor, LionTree Advisors LLC, have failed to provide shareholders with enough information about the proposed merger for them to make an informed vote on the deal.
Stevens’s lawsuit alleges that the proxy statement Sotheby’s filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission about the proposed sale is “materially incomplete and misleading,” and that it violates the Exchange Act. The lawsuit alleges that Sotheby’s “failed to disclose certain material information that is necessary for shareholders to properly assess the fairness” of the proposed sale, particularly information related to financial projections and valuation analyses.
Last month, Sotheby’s dismissed previous lawsuits filed with nearly identical language as an “expected and routine” part of such a complex deal. When the auction house released its earnings report for the second quarter of 2019 last week, CEO Tad Smith said: “The proposed acquisition of our company is on track, and we remain focused on serving our global clients.”
Sotheby’s expects the sale to Drahi will be finalized by the end of 2019. The deal will make the auction house private once again. It has been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange for the past 31 years.