Sotheby's activist ups his stake and launches attack

The battle for control of Sotheby's, the world's most famous auction business, last night saw activist investor Dan Loeb make sweeping demands for change in the boardroom.

The hedge fund manager said he wanted to remove the chairman and chief executive, William Ruprecht, and have himself installed as a board member. To this end, Mr Loeb's company Third Point has upped his stake in Sotheby's from 5.7 per cent to 9.3 per cent, making it the biggest single shareholder.

In an open letter to Mr Ruprecht, he said: "an able caretaker of Sotheby's during times of crisis, you have not shown the innovation or inspiration the company sorely needs to play offense today". Sotheby's still managed a 7 per cent rise in revenues in the year to June. In a statement it said Mr Ruprecht had led it to another profitable year.

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