Sotheby’s, the New York auctioneer under pressure to improve returns, said Patrick McClymont, a partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., is replacing its chief financial officer of 17 years, William Sheridan.
A 1991 graduate of Cornell University, McClymont has been a managing director in investment banking at Goldman since 1998, Sotheby’s said in a release.
Andrew Gully, a Sotheby’s spokesman, said the move is unrelated to corporate activism by investor Daniel Loeb, whose Third Point LLC has taken a 5.7 percent stake in the auction house, according to an Aug. 26 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The hedge-fund company “intends to engage in a dialogue with members of the board or management” that may relate “to potential changes of strategy and leadership,” the filing said.
“Bill and Sotheby’s came to a mutual agreement that he would no longer serve as CFO after being at Sotheby’s for 17 years,” Gully said in a phone interview.
McClymont takes over Oct. 7. Sheridan will remain at the company until the end of the year, according to the release. The company said on Sept. 11 that it’s “conducting a thorough review of its capital allocation and financial policies.”
Michael Plummer, a former chief operating officer at rival Christie’s financial services group, said the replacement is a consequence of Loeb and other activist investors pressuring Sotheby’s.
“They are probably looking at how they use their capital and how they access capital markets, and if they can be more aggressive on that front,” said Plummer, a principal of Artvest, a New York company providing investment advice on the art market.
McClymont, 44, previously advised Sotheby’s on “strategic and financial matters,” the company said in a filing today with the SEC.
Like Sheridan, he is to receive a base salary of $600,000. McClymont’s annual bonus could be as much as $1.3 million, with a signing bonus of $325,000. Sotheby’s will also reimburse the banker for professional fees of up to $25,000 for negotiating the package.
Under his severance agreement, Sheridan will receive $2.2 million and 18 months of additional medical and dental coverage.