Altice's founder buys Sotheby’s

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Patrick Drahi, who founded telecoms group Altice has this week agreed to buy Sotheby’s auction house for $3.7 billion (€3.28 billion).

Through the acquisition, Sotheby’s will become a privately owned concern, following 31 years as a publicly listed company on the New York Stock Exchange.

Drahi said the acquisition has “no capital link with Altice Europe or Altice USA” and will be funded through BNP Paribas, as well as by equity provided from his personal holdings.

The move marks further in-roads into the US for Drahi. Altice acquired cable operator Suddenlink in 2015, Cablevision in 2016 and digital news company, Cheddar earlier this year.

Drahi’s  holdings in Altice USA have increased over the last 12 months from 34% to 38 %, due to Altice USA’s share repurchase programme.

Telecoms focus

To fund the deal, Drahi said he plans to “monetise a small position in Altice USA [worth] up to $400 million (€450.4 million) by the end of the year” but does not intend to sell any shares in Altice Europe NV.

“The telecom and media industries will keep being my main focus where I remain 100% committed to our businesses and to our continued growth,” he said.

According to the Financial Times, the Sotheby’s deal follows “frantic negotiations that began with an unsolicited approach from Mr Drahi.” 

“I am honoured that the Board of Sotheby’s has decided to recommend my offer,” Drahi commented.

“Sotheby’s is one of the most elegant and aspirational brands in the world. As a long-time client and lifetime admirer of the company, I am acquiring Sotheby’s together with my family."