Sotheby's to Be Sold to French-Israeli Businessman Patrick Drahi for $3.7 Billion

Drahi runs a business-telecom empire and in Israel has stakes in Hot cable company and i24NEWS

File photo: French-Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi, October 9, 2018.
Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Patrick Drahi, the French-Israeli billionaire behind telecoms and media group Altice, has agreed to buy art auction house Sotheby’s in a deal worth $3.7 billion on an enterprise value basis.

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.

“Sotheby’s is one of the most elegant and aspirational brands in the world,” Drahi said in the statement. Drahi added that he anticipates no changes to the strategy of the company, which was founded in Lond in 1744, and said, “I have full confidence in Sotheby’s management.”

Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith called Drahi “one of the most well-regarded entrepreneurs in the world” and  said: “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. It positions us very well for our future and I strongly believe that the company will be in excellent hands for decades to come with Patrick as our owner,” he added.