Sotheby’s Agrees to Take-Private Offer

Sotheby’s (BID) said Monday that it has agreed to be acquired in a $3.7 billion deal that would take the auction house private.

The New York-based company said it will merge with BidFair USA, wholly owned by Altice Europe founder and Chairman Patrick Drahi. BidFair will pay $57 for each Sotheby’s share, a 61% premium to Friday’s close. Drahi “has a long-term view and shares our brand vision for great client service and employing innovation to enhance the value of the company for clients and employees,” said Tad Smith, Sotheby’s chief executive. “This acquisition will provide Sotheby’s with the opportunity to accelerate the successful program and growth initiatives of the past several years in a more flexible private environment.”

The deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, would return the company to private ownership after 31 years in public trading.

“Following a comprehensive review, the board enthusiastically supports Mr. Drahi’s offer, which delivers a significant premium to market for our shareholders,” said Chairman Domenico De Sole. “After more than 30 years as a public company, the time is right for Sotheby’s to return to private ownership to continue on a path of growth and success.”

Sotheby’s, which was founded in 1744, has auction houses in Europe, the Middle East and Asia and offices around the world. It also operates an art-financing arm three retail businesses, including Sotheby’s Wine, Sotheby’s Diamonds and Sotheby’s Home.

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