At a special meeting of Sotheby’s shareholders at the firm’s New York offices today, an overwhelming majority of votes were cast in favour of the sale to BidFair USA, an entity wholly owned by Drahi and his family. The votes in favour represented 91% of the shares of those who voted.
Drahi, a French-Israeli businessman who is also an enthusiastic art collector, offered $57 per share. This represented a premium of 61% to the closing price on June 14, the day before it was announced that Sotheby’s had entered into an ‘Agreement and Plan of Merger’ with Bidfair.
Although a number of shareholders expressed dissatisfaction with the deal and a group of four investors filed lawsuits relating to the release of information about the terms of the deal, it would appear that no other buyer came forward with a better offer for the company.
Chairman of Sotheby’s board of directors Domenico De Sole said: “Mr Drahi’s offer delivers a significant premium to market for our shareholders, including our employee shareholders, and positions Sotheby’s well for the future.”
Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith said: “This is an historic moment for Sotheby’s and we are very pleased to have the validation of the company’s shareholders. Sotheby’s is on track for another strong season with outstanding auctions set to be held in Hong Kong and Contemporary art sales that will inaugurate our newly-renovated space on Bond Street in London early next month.”
From another era
On the same day as shareholders were voting, this carte de visite of Victorian auctioneer and antiquarian Samuel Leigh Sotheby (1805-61) was sold at Bristol Auction Rooms.
Bought on thesaleroom.com for a below-estimate £60, it depicted the grandson of bookseller John Sotheby. Samuel Leigh was from the third and final generation of the family to be involved with the firm.
He drowned after falling into the River Dart near Buckfast Abbey.