Third Point has launched a proxy battle with auction house Sotheby’s, which the activist hedge fund has called “an Old Master painting in desperate need of restoration.”
The New York-based firm nominated founder Daniel Loeb and two others to Sotheby’s board. Third Point said yesterday that the company needed “new blood and fresh views” and a shakeup of its “entrenched” board.
The move comes four months after Loeb demanded a seat on the Sotheby’s board and the ouster of CEO William Ruprecht, who he accused of a “lack of leadership and strategic vision.” Third Point owns a 9.5% stake in Sotheby’s.
In addition to board representation and a new CEO, Loeb called on Sotheby’s to improve its “chronically weak operating margins” and to focus more on modern and contemporary art.
Sotheby’s, which yesterday announced a 37% increase in fourth-quarter profit, said it was disappointed by Loeb’s move.
“Third Point’s actions are particularly unfortunate given the efforts that Sotheby’s has made to reach an agreement with Mr. Loeb,” it said.
In addition to Loeb, Third Point has nominated Maeva Group CEO Harry Wilson and jewelry executive Olivier Reza.