Singaporean Investor To Increase Ownership Stake in Sotheby’s

Shanda was founded as an online gaming company.

Tianquiao Chen and Chrissy Luo. Courtesy of Shanda Group.
Tianquiao Chen and Chrissy Luo. Courtesy of Shanda Group.

 

Photo: Sotheby's.

Photo: Sotheby’s.

A private, Singapore-based investment group called Shanda is increasing its ownership stake in Sotheby’s now that the US Federal Trade Commission granted antitrust approval in a notice dated May 17, according to a report by Katya Kazakina on Bloomberg.

Shanda originated as an online gaming company and is run by co-founders Tianqiao Chen and Chrissy Qian Qian Luo, who currently own two percent of Sotheby’s shares, which was valued at $31 million as of March 31. According to a Forbes post, Tianqiao Chen has a net worth of $1 billion and ranked #243 on China’s rich list.

Tianquiao Chen and Chrissy Luo. Courtesy of Shanda Group.

Tianquiao Chen and Chrissy Luo. Courtesy of Shanda Group.

 

The news is the latest in a string of major changes at Sotheby’s as CEO Tad Smith, who came to the auction house from Madison Square Garden and has been in place for just over a year, continues to execute a turnaround that has seen the departure of major executives and a steep drop in share price and profits under pressure in recent months.

In a May 9 earnings conference call with investors, Sotheby’s CFO Michael Goss said that an investor—since confirmed as Shanda—could increase its stake in the auction house to as much as 10 percent, raising the possibility that Sotheby’s could be acquired or taken private.

US law requires investors to notify antitrust officials about company stock acquisition. According to Bloomberg, Shanda reported its acquisition of 594,544 shares at the end of this past December.

According to its website:

“Shanda Group is a private investment group, which seeks global opportunities that offer business growth or unique breakthrough potential. The company was founded in 1999 and is currently headquartered in Singapore with offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Canada, Japan and the US.

Shanda Group operates under three main business units—Public Market Investments, Private Equity Investments and Real Estate Investments. These business teams are helmed by experienced managers, bankers and traders.”

Hedge fund mogul and top collector Steve Cohen has also been increasing his stake through his Point72 Asset Management in recent months. At the end of March, Point72 had a 5.5 percent stake valued at $86.1 million, making it the auction house’s fifth largest shareholder.

BID-Chart-5.19

 

Shares of Sotheby’s have been trading around $28, after hitting a low of $19, this past February.

Hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, who took the company through a bruising proxy battle that won him three board seats and resulted in the departure of longtime CEO William Ruprecht, is the largest shareholder, with an 11 percent stake. The total holding of his firm, Third Point, were worth $178 million as of the end of March.

Sotheby’s declined to comment on the news of Shanda’s antitrust approval. Shanda has not responded for comment.

 


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