Christie's ends talks with `bidder'

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The Independent Online
Auction house Christie's International, said yesterday that it had ended talks with a possible bidder, claiming the proposals were not in the best interests of shareholders'. Shares in Christie's closed a penny higher at 250.5p, significantly ahead of their 12-month low of 224.5p last month.

Christie's did not disclose the identity of the bidder. However, some City sources suggested the management might have been interested. Meanwhile, there has been long running speculation that the Bahamas-based investor Joe Lewis, who holds a 29 per cent stake in Christie's, may be interested in making an offer for the remainder. At yesterday's closing price Christie's would be valued at pounds 390m.

Mr Lewis, a reclusive entrepreneur has built a reputation as a canny investor. He bought a 25 per cent stake in Glasgow Rangers, the Scottish football club, earlier this year.

Christie's has had a good run recently. Last year its auction house sales of just over pounds 1bn were higher than Sotheby's for the first time in 40 years. In July it announced half-year sales of pounds 557m, a rise of 15 per cent.

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