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French-Israeli media mogul Drahi buys Sotheby's for $3.7 billion

17 June 2019

Shares of Sotheby's spiked almost 60% Monday after the NY auction house said BidFair USA - an entity owned by Patrick Drahi, the billionaire founder of telecommunications group Altice - was acquiring it for $3.7 billion.

De Sole said the board "enthusiastically supports" Drahi's offer, which would pay shareholders $57 in cash per share - far above its Friday closing price of $35.38.

The company has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 1988 but its 275-year history predates the existence of the Wall Street exchange by almost 50 years.

The deal also marks a new chapter for the 275-year-old auction house that became a destination for a new generation of wealth created on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and around the world.

Sotheby's handled 2018's most expensive painting, Amedeo Modigliani's Nu couché, which sold for $157.2m.

He is the founder and majority shareholder of the Amsterdam-listed telecoms firm Altice, which he built via a string of acquisitions of smaller companies, including landmark deals in the USA that led to the group's American assets being spun off into a separate company.

FILE PHOTO: A woman stands in front of Andy Warhol's "Superman" at a pre-auction viewing at Sotheby's in Los Angeles, California March 25, 2015. Before Monday the stock was down 11 per cent in the year to date.

"Sotheby's is one of the most elegant and aspirational brands in the world, said the buyer, Patrick Drahi". Shares in Altice USA fell around 2% on Monday.

"I am honoured that the board of Sotheby's has made a decision to recommend my offer", said Drahi, a 55-year-old French-Israeli businessman who lives in Switzerland.

The Sotheby's purchase is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year, the company said.

After the financial crisis sent the art market into a tailspin, Sotheby's went through rounds of cost-costing and faced attacks by hedge fund investors Dan Loeb and Mick McGuire.

The price "affirms the value we saw when we first invested in Sotheby's, and rewards long-term investors like Third Point who believed in its potential", Loeb told Reuters.

French-Israeli media mogul Drahi buys Sotheby's for $3.7 billion