Massive auction house Sotheby’s made a major announcement last week with its new strategic plan. The company plans on paying out a massive $300 million special dividend to shareholders in March and is considering selling off its New York and London headquarters.
Sotheby’s also promised to pay out a special dividend every year moving forward, and it says that it plans on buying back about $150 million of its shares ($25 million this year).
These changes came after pressure from activist investor Dan Loeb and his company, Third Point, which at one point had a stake of about 9.3% in Sotheby’s. Loeb also called for the ouster of CEO Bill Ruprecht, though the company has chosen to instead make changes without bringing in new leadership.
“The message we are delivering is clear,” said Ruprecht after the announcement, “we are returning meaningful capital to our shareholders now and in the future and establishing a framework that puts Sotheby’s in the strongest position to compete and win in this marketplace while delivering value to our clients.”
Sotheby’s finance head said the changes came about after “much welcome input and feedback” from Dan Loeb’s Third Point, Mick McGuire’s Marcato, and Nelson Peltz’s Trian. “We are committed, as always, to continue that dialogue,” he added.
Though the specific demand of ousting Ruprecht hasn’t been met, McGuire says that these changes are a “step in the right direction.” He believes there is more to be done, however, before Sotheby’s will have made all possible improvements.