Sotheby’s shareholders approved telecom billionaire Patrick Drahi’s acquisition bid
at a special meeting in New York on Thursday morning. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2019 and will make Sotheby’s a private company after three decades of being publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, where shares opened at $57.38 on Thursday morning. As part of the sale to BidFair USA, a company wholly owned by Drahi, Sotheby’s shareholders will receive $57 per share for a transaction with an enterprise value of $3.7 billion.
“Mr. Drahi’s offer delivers a significant premium to market for our shareholders, including our employee shareholders, and positions Sotheby’s well for the future,” Domenico De Sole, the chairman of Sotheby’s board of directors, said in a statement.
Some 91 percent of the votes at Thursday’s meeting were in favor of the sale to Drahi, according to Bloomberg
’s Katya Kazakina. Before the vote, four shareholders
had brought lawsuits
against the auction house, alleging they had not been provided enough information to make an informed decision. Sotheby’s stated that the lawsuits were “expected and routine.”
Sotheby’s transition to a private company will enable it to compete more directly with arch rival Christie’s, and will bring an end to one of the art world’s most informative sources of transparent market data. Public disclosures and quarterly reports will no longer be available. It remains to be seen what changes Drahi—a French-Israeli businessman with a net worth of $10.7 billion—will bring to the company.