FILE - In this March 11, 2019, file photo Sotheby's Chairman Domenico De Sole, second from right, is applauded by CEO Tad Smith, right, and others as he rings the New York Stock Exchange opening bell to celebrate the company's 275th anniversary. BidFair USA is taking auction house Sotheby's private in a deal valued at $3.7 billion. BidFair USA will pay $57 per share, which is a 61% premium to the company's closing stock price. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Patrick Drahi taking Sotheby's private in deal worth $3.7B

June 17, 2019 - 10:01 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Billionaire entrepreneur and art collector Patrick Drahi is taking auction house Sotheby's private in a deal valued at $3.7 billion.

Drahi, through his BidFair USA company, will pay $57 per share, which is a 61% premium to the company's Friday closing stock price.

"This acquisition will provide Sotheby's with the opportunity to accelerate the successful program of growth initiatives of the past several years in a more flexible private environment," Sotheby's CEO Tad Smith said in a written statement.

Sotheby's, founded in London in 1744, is the oldest company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, where it has been listed for 31 years.

The New York company presents auctions in 10 salesrooms worldwide. Last year the company's net income totaled $108.6 million, or $2.09 per share, on revenue of $1.04 billion. Adjusted profit totaled $128.9 million, or $2.48 per share.

Drahi, 54, is the founder and controlling shareholder of Altice, which provides telecommunications services in France and elsewhere. The French billionaire has expanded his telecom and media operations internationally, with businesses in Portugal, Israel, the U.S. and Dominican Republic. Altice bought the New York-area Cablevision cable company in 2015, and spun off an American business arm in 2017.

The deal has been approved by Sotheby's board and is expected to close in the fourth quarter. It's subject to shareholder approval and regulatory clearance.

Shares of Sotheby's jumped $20.39, or 57.6%, to $55.78 in Monday morning trading. Before Monday the stock was down 11% in the year to date.

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