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Sotheby's to buy $73.8 mln in shares from activist fund

BOSTON Oct 4 Sotheby's plans to buy $73.8 million of stock from Marcato Capital Management, helping the activist investor cut its stake in the auction house by roughly half, according to regulatory filings on Tuesday.

The auction house said in the filing that it agreed to buy 2.05 million shares at $36 a share from Marcato. The hedge fund said in a separate filing that it now owns a 4.9 percent stake in Sotheby's, down from 9.6 percent at the end of June, when it was the fund's second largest holding.

Sotheby's stock price closed on Tuesday at $36.99, down 55 cents, or 1.5 percent on the day but up 44 percent since the start of 2016.

Marcato, run by Richard McGuire, began pushing for changes at Sotheby's three years ago by suggesting that capital was not being used in the most intelligent way. In 2014, the company put hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb and two others on its board after a bitter proxy fight.

In July, Taikang Life Insurance, run by Chen Dongsheng, who founded Chinese auction house China Guardian, took a 13.5 percent stake in Sotheby's.

Also in July, Marcato announced two new investments in crane and heavy equipment manufacturer Terex Corp and restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by David Gregorio)

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