Suitors line up for Bonhams as outfit goes under the hammer

Michael Bow
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A HANDFUL of private equity suitors have submitted first round bids for 220-year-old British auction house Bonhams, after the firm opted for a sale over a stock market float.

Up to six firms are understood to have submitted bids for the company, including offers from the UK arm Mitt Romney-founded Bain Capital, as well as Pret-a-Manger owner Bridgepoint.

Boutique investment bank Greenhill is advising on the sale of the company.

The auction house has displayed impressive growth figures recently and posted a 32 per cent increase in hammer sales in 2013, helping deliver a doubling of operating profit to £25m.

Its reputation is staked on the auctions of high end goods, with lots including the Formula 1 racing car that drove to victory in the 1954 Swiss Grand Prix, which sold for £19.6m last year.

The business is owned by a former motor racing driver, Robert Brooks, alongside the heir to Holland’s famous Louwman Museum, Evert Louwman.