| BOSTON, April 14
BOSTON, April 14 Activist investor Daniel Loeb,
who is fighting to win control of three board seats at Sotheby's
, on Monday raised the temperature by saying the current
board has failed and that its attacks on him are "false" and
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission,
Loeb responded to Sotheby's presentation of last week when the
270-year-old auction house questioned Loeb's ability to add
value to its business.
Loeb in his filing also took aim at the Sotheby's board for
its claims on the company's performance.
"Management's claim that 2013 was a 'record' year is
misleading and demonstrates the risk of having a Board asleep at
the switch," Loeb wrote. He noted that earnings per share fell
by 42 percent between 2007 and 2013, and that revenues fell and
expenses climbed over the same time period.
Sotheby's declined to comment.
Loeb's $14.5 billion hedge fund Third Point currently owns a
9.6 percent stake in Sotheby's and started a proxy contest
earlier this year, putting Loeb and two other people forward as
directors. Since the middle of last year, Loeb and Third Point
have been pushing the company to overhaul its financial
strategy, return capital to investors and improve its position
in the modern art market.
To some observers, the battle is being drawn along the same
lines as the 2012 battle for Yahoo, in which Loeb
played an instrumental role in pushing out Scott Thompson as
chief executive and hand-picking Marissa Meyer to run the
company. The two sides negotiated a settlement and Loeb joined
Sotheby's share price has fallen 21.33 percent since October
2013. The company in October adopted a poison pill to prevent
activist investors from owning more than 10 percent, two days
after Loeb raised his stake in the company. Third Point has
filed suit in Delaware Chancery Court to try and force Sotheby's
to withdraw the poison pill. The next hearing is scheduled for
Loeb said Sotheby's was disingenuous in criticizing his exit
from Yahoo last year. Loeb said Yahoo's share price climbed more
than 85 percent during the time he and two other directors close
to Third Point served on the board.
He also said that Sotheby's made "false statements" about
his experience in the art world. He said that as a prominent
collector he has loaned some of his personal collection to
museums like the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Sotheby's annual meeting will take place on May 6, and
before then Loeb and Sotheby's will both try to persuade
investors to their side. Proxy voting advisory firm ISS is
expected to make a recommendation on which slate to pick in the
(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Leslie Adler)