Patrick Drahi is reportedly eyeing up a potential listing for Sotheby’s, just over two years after the billionaire telecoms tycoon and art collector snapped up the renowned British auction house in a $3.7bn deal.
Drahi has been exploring the prospect of floating Sotheby’s in the US as soon as next year during discussions with potential advisers, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg, who first reported the news.
Sotheby’s, which was founded some 300 years ago, dominates the global auction scene dealing in fine art, collectibles and real estate, alongside fellow British rival Christie’s, which is also owned by a French billionaire, Francois Pinault.
Auction sales have thrived this year, as the main houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s embraced online sales and even began selling pieces in cyrptocurrencies.
According to data from Pi-eX, hybrid auctions, where the process is livestreamed online with an auctioneer in view, have been a particular success, with sales via this medium rising from to $5.1bn this year, almost quadruple their $1.4bn level last year.
The same sources told Bloomberg that the talks are at an early stage, and the details of a potential IPO could alter, depending on investor appetite.
Sotheby’s and a representative for Drahi have been contacted for comment.
A serial dealmaker, only yesterday Drahi’s telecoms investment group Altice upped its stake in British telecoms giant BT from 12.1 per cent to 18 per cent, disappointing eager traders who were banking on an imminent French takeover.
But the tycoon insisted that he wasn’t on the prowl for a hostile takeover, and backed the current management.
Drahi said he holds the BT management in “high regard” and was “fully supportive of their strategy”, including the full-fibre broadband roll out.
The french businessman is said to be worth £9bn, having made his fortune in the telecoms sector.