Sotheby’s, founded in London in 1744, is the oldest company traded on the New York Stock Exchange. If the deal is approved by shareholders and regulators, Sotheby’s would become a privately held company for the first time in more than three decades.
The New York company, which started in London, holds auctions in 10 salesrooms worldwide with annual sales turnover exceeding $4 billion.
It reported an adjusted profit last year of close to $130 million and revenue of more than $1 billion.
Sotheby’s said on Monday it had signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by BidFair USA, an acquisition vehicle set up by Drahi, that had offered $57 in cash per share to buy out Sotheby’s.
The offer represented a premium of 61% to Sotheby’s closing price on Friday. The deal will also result in Sotheby’s returning to private ownership after 31 years as a public company whose shares were traded on the New York market.
Patrick Drahi was born in Morocco, and as a teenager moved with his family to France. He began to build his wealth by acquiring small cable companies in France and in 2001 founded the Altice. In Israel, he controls Hot Telecom and the News i24 televison news broadcaster.
An avid art collector, TheMarker’s 2018 ranking of the wealthiest Israelis puts Drahi at No. 5 ,with an estimated worth of $8.75 billion. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Drahi was worth $8.6 billion.