If you were stunned when
announced it was buying
, then brace yourself for an even bigger dose of culture shock.
could make a $1.6 billion bid for
, which lately has been operating under the cloud of a price-fixing probe, a London newspaper reported Sunday.
Citing unnamed industry sources, the
Independent on Sunday
reported that five-year-old eBay was said to be interested in buying 256-year-old Sotheby's.
An eBay spokesman declined comment on the report Sunday. Representatives from Sotheby's could not immediately be reached for comment.
Such a pairing would combine a venerable auction house whose sales have ranged from
Garcon au Gilet Rouge
to the jewels of the
Duchess of Windsor
with an online start-up that has gained popularity for an array of arcane goods such as nose-hair trimmers, adult videos and dog biscuits.
has been investigating price-fixing allegations involving Sotheby's and rival
. In addition, the two auction houses face dozens of civil lawsuits accusing them of collusion.
Amid the turmoil, Sotheby's lost two key executives last week. A. Alfred Taubman resigned as chairman and Diana Brooks stepped down as president and CEO.
According to the
Independent on Sunday
, Christie's is cooperating with the federal investigation in exchange for immunity, a deal that has increased the pressure on Sotheby's.
Last year, Sotheby's launched an online auction site with
. At the time, Amazon's stake in Sotheby's was about $45 million.
In Other News
French and American food groups were preparing this weekend to make a joint bid for the U.K.'s
, sources told
. The bid could be valued at around $2 billion, although the two sides are still negotiating how to split up the company. The U.S. group,
, is made up of
and Texas buyout firm
Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst
. The French group,
and an affiliate of
is denying a report in the
Mail on Sunday
newspaper that it is up for sale and is in buyout talks with
. In fact, the company tells
it is considering making a bid for the brewing division of the U.K.'s
is hoping a listing on the
will save the beleagured restaurant chain. London's
reported that the company will announce details this week of a plan to raise $30 million in capital.
customers will soon be able to access banking services via mobile phones. The company, a joint venture between
, is set to announce an alliance with
Meanwhile, a separate U.S.-German joint venture was announced Saturday:
will supply online business software to medium-sized businesses in Germany.
Following three days of talks,
was unable to reach an agreement with its engineers' union Saturday. About 18,000 workers have been on strike since Feb. 9.
Midwest Express Airlines
have ratified a five-year contract, the airline announced Sunday night. Both sides narrowly averted a strike earlier this month.
has finalized its $3 billion acquisition of Kentucky's
in London reported Monday.
In Japan, the
average was down 34.44 points, or 0.17%, to 19,783.44 in early Monday trading.
In the Papers
Forget your palm-sized organizer. The cover story in the latest issue of
makes the bold prediction that such handheld gadgets will become obsolete within five years as cellular telephone technology races ahead.
also features an interview with Donald L. Luskin, H. Davis Nadig and Maurice Werdegar, managers of South San Francisco's
, whose entire portfolio, as well as every transaction, is posted online. Their stock picks include
Terayon Communication Systems
PE Corp.-Celera Genomics
Harris & Harris
The Sunday edition of the
New York Times
takes a closer look at
, whose booming
service poses a threat to cable companies. The company remains a subsidiary of
, although the
notes that Hughes has begun recruiting independent board members and is selling its research lab in Malibu. Could a spinoff be in the works?
David Rheingold is a New York-based freelance writer. At the time of publication he had no positions in any of the securities mentioned, although holdings can change at any time.