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Sotheby’s Said to Select Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley for IPO

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(Bloomberg) -- Sotheby’s, the auction house owned by French telecom billionaire Patrick Drahi, has selected Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley to work on a potential U.S. listing, according to people familiar with the matter.

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An initial public offering could take place later this year and the company may seek a value of about $5 billion, excluding debt, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.

Deliberations are ongoing and the eventual timing and valuation of any listing will depend on investor appetite and market conditions, the people said. Sotheby’s could appoint more banks to work on the IPO in the coming weeks, they said.

Representatives for Drahi, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Sotheby’s competes with Christie’s, owned by French billionaire Francois Pinault, as one of the world’s biggest auction houses dealing in fine art, collectibles and real estate. Drahi’s decision to explore an IPO follows a record year for Sotheby’s in which sales topped $7 billion.

Drahi bought the business for $3.7 billion including debt in 2019, a deal that ended its three-decade run as a public company.

Since then it’s been placing increasing importance on non-traditional sources of revenue and last year brokered a $1.8 million sale of rapper Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 1 sneakers. It also embraced the market for non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, partnering with online marketplace Nifty Gateway on a $16.8 million sale of work by the digital artist known as Pak.

IPO markets globally have had a slow start to 2022. Companies have priced deals valued at $8.6 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg -- that’s down more than 50% year-on-year. Investor appetite for special purpose acquisition companies and technology stocks with high values cooled toward the end of 2021.

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