Third Point, Sotheby’s Thrilled To Be Working With One Another, Ready To Put “Holy Jihad,” “Scum” Comments Behind ThemBy Bess Levin
Did Third Point chief Dan Loeb recently tell friends he had a plan to “undermine the credibility” of Sotheby’s Chairman and CEO William Ruprecht? Yes. Did Ruprecht refer to Loeb as “scum”? Indeed. Are the two men going to let either of these things make Sotheby’s board meetings, at which they’ll be working together, awkward in the slightest? Of course not. Why would you think that?
Activist investor Daniel Loeb and auction house Sotheby’s announced a settlement Monday that concludes his seven-month campaign to shake up the company a day before shareholders were to vote on his board candidates. The pact gives Mr. Loeb three board seats by expanding the board to 15 people, rather than seeing Mr. Loeb’s candidates go up against company nominees. The deal also caps Mr. Loeb’s stock ownership at 15%. His hedge fund, Third Point LLC, currently owns about 9.6%, but had sought the ability to go to 20%, a request the company had blocked, leading Third Point to sue…In a joint statement Monday, Mr. Loeb said: “As of today we see ourselves not as the Third Point Nominees but as Sotheby’s directors, and we expect to work collaboratively with our fellow board members to enhance long-term value on behalf of all shareholders.” Sotheby’s Chairman and Chief Executive William Ruprecht said the agreement “ensures that our focus is on the business.” [...]
Monday’s agreement comes after a Delaware judge on Friday blessed Sotheby’s so-called poison pill that limited the amount of stock Third Point could acquire. Beyond that legal issue, a court hearing last week in the suit enabled Third Point to surface internal board emails showing support for Mr. Loeb’s point of view; inflammatory comments by Mr. Loeb also were revealed. The airing of the various remarks added to the drama of a campaign that had captivated both Wall Street and the art world…At one point, according to a Friday court ruling, Mr. Loeb emailed allies he was waging a “holy jihad” with the plan to “undermine the credibility” of Mr. Ruprecht. Mr. Loeb said the email was intended as a joke and not meant to offend. Mr. Ruprecht referred to Mr. Loeb as “scum” to another board member and said his campaign was about “ego,” the judge’s ruling said.