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The firm announced the extension to their five-year senior secured revolving credit agreement just a week after publishing relatively healthy third-quarter results for 2005.

A company spokesman said that the extension would provide extra liquidity for their financial services – a key part of the business in securing top consignments in a heavily competitive market.

The quarterly results showed higher commissions continuing to be the focus of auction revenue growth, with a 26 per cent increase from the second quarter to $53.7m. Total revenues for the quarter reached $56.3m, the highest ever third-quarter revenues in the firm’s history, say Sotheby’s.

Traditionally a loss-making period because of the relatively inactive summer months, the period registered a $21m net loss compared to a net loss of $28.7m for the same period last year.

Chief executive Bull Ruprecht was bullish about the company’s prospects for the year as a whole, not least because of the exceptional performance of the New York post-War and Contemporary art sales earlier this month. However, rivals Christie’s have taken a strong lead across these sales as a whole, bringing more significance to the credit facility extension.