Bonhams have been bought by London-based private equity group Epiris, who announced the deal last week without disclosing details of the sale. Founded in 1793, the auction house has seven sales rooms worldwide, and for the last two decades has undergone a marked expansion to compete with bigger rivals Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
Announcing the deal, Bonhams CEO Matthew Girling said: “We are delighted to have found a buyer that recognises the potential offered by this business and its employees. Bonhams is one of the world’s oldest auctioneers – and one of the most ambitious.”
Matthew Girling and Bonhams CFO Jonathan Fairhurst will be joined by new Executive Chairman Bruno Vinciguerra, previously COO of Sotheby’s.
The growth in online participation in auctions has meant competition for both seller and buyers has been more fierce, and the acquisition by Epiris is being seen as critical to the auction house’s growth. Epiris partner Owen Wilson stated, of the deal, “Bonhams is a global business operating in a market with long-term structural growth and high barriers to entry. It is a platform with extensive scope for transformation through investment.”
Watches are a rapidly growing sale category for Bonhams, so it remains to be seen as to whether Epiris will invest in expanding this area.
According to their website, Epiris has invested £1.1billion in equity since 2011. To see their press release regarding the Bonhams acquisition, click on this link.