James Murdoch set to invest in Art Basel organiser

Art Basel was founded in 1970. The annual Basel fair features works from around 4,000 artists and attracts almost 100,000 visitors. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas
This content was published on July 10, 2020 - 09:12
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An investment firm belonging to James Murdoch, media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s son, is poised to take a 30-44% stake in the Swiss exhibitions company MCH Group. The group organises the Art Basel and Baselworld watch and jewellery fairs, both of which were badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lupa Systems, an investment company founded by James Murdoch in 2019, has been in negotiations with MCH Group for several months.

On Friday, MCH Group reported that Murdoch’s company is keen to become an “anchor shareholder” in the MCH Group and take a 30-44% stake in the Basel-based exhibitions firm. Murdoch will also be given a seat on MCH Group’s board of directors.

Lupa Systems has signed a long-term relationship agreement and is fully committed to the strategic direction, MCH Group said in a statement.

The deal still needs to be validated at an extraordinary general meeting on August 3.

MCH has moved to “strengthen its capital structure and shareholder base to cope with the consequences of the coronavirus crisis and to be able to embark on the process of future-oriented transformation”, it said.

The exhibitions company is boosting capital by CHF105 million ($111.51 million).

MCH Group has faced a stormy year after the cancellation of its Baselworld watch and jewellery fair in April, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the exit of several big watchmakers.

The group said the 2021 edition would also be temporarily shelved. The Baselworld organisers said they would be taking a decision on possible follow-up formats by the summer and would then provide information on the new concept and scheduling.

Last month it was also announced that this year’s edition of Art Basel, the world’s biggest art fair, initially rescheduled until September due to the Covid-19 pandemic, had been cancelled altogether. The next edition of the Basel fair will take place from June 17-20, 2021.

A version of the show in Hong Kong was also cancelled this year and is due to be held on March 25-27, 2021. Art Basel Miami Beach, meanwhile, is scheduled to take place from December 3-6.

Events of up to 1,000 people have been possible in Switzerland since June 22. A ban on events of more than 1,000 attendees will remain in place until at least the end of August.

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