Daniel Loeb, whose Third Point hedge fund has acquired almost 10% of Sotheby’s stock, has called for the auction house’s chief executive and chairman, Bill Ruprecht, to step down.
Mr Loeb demanded the change in
leadership in an open letter to Mr Ruprecht in which he criticises
him for not taking the business forward and failing to compete
properly with arch-rival Christie's and failing in his policy to
focus on the top end of the market.
Praising Mr Ruprecht for his handling
of Sotheby's during the financial crisis of the past few years, Mr
Loeb is reported as saying that the company now faced a "crisis of
In response, an official company
statement said that results in recent times had been "superior",
including "a share price increase exceeding the Standard &
Poor's Midcap index over the one, five and ten-year periods" and
declined to comment further at this stage on what it called the
"incendiary and baseless comments".
Mr Loeb's letter comes a week after
Sotheby's announced that they would be replacing their chief
financial officer of 17 years, William S. Sheridan, and a matter of
weeks after he and other "investor activists" acquired a 5.7% stake
in the company (now reportedly raised to 9.3%) with the expressed
intention of mounting talks with the board about improving
Mr Loeb, who is also reported to be
seeking a seat on Sotheby's board, is known for sending similar
letters to chief executives of firms in which he has invested -
there is even a website dedicated to this
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