New York, June 18 (IANS) International auction house Sotheby's has made a formal announcement of its acquisition by French-Israeli telecommunications mogul Patrick Drahi for $3.7 billion.Sotheby's said in an official statement on Monday that it has "signed a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by BidFair USA" -- an entity wholly owned by the 55-year-old media and telecom entrepreneur Drahi, who is also an art collector.The transaction would result in Sotheby's returning to private ownership after 31 years as a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, it added. Tad Smith, Sotheby's CEO, called Drahi one of the most well-regarded entrepreneurs in the world, and welcomed him to the family. "Known for his commitment to innovation and ingenuity, Patrick founded and leads some of the most successful telecommunications, media and digital companies in the world. "This acquisition will provide Sotheby's with the opportunity to accelerate the successful programme of growth initiatives of the past several years in a more flexible private environment," the CEO said in the statement.He added that the company will be in excellent hands for decades to come with Drahi as the owner."I am honoured that the Board of Sotheby's has decided to recommend my offer," said Drahi."Sotheby's is one of the most elegant and aspirational brands in the world. As a longtime client and lifetime admirer of the company, I am acquiring Sotheby's together with my family," added the billionare, who founded telecom giant Altice Europe in 2001."Under the terms of the agreement, which was approved by Sotheby's Board of Directors, shareholders, including employee shareholders, will receive $57.00 in cash per share of Sotheby's common stock in a transaction with an enterprise value of $3.7 billion," the statement said.The closing of the deal is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory clearance and shareholder approvals, the auction house added.Sotheby's currently hosts auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris. In India, the inaugural auction of Sotheby's, titled 'Boundless: India' took place last November in Mumbai.
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