The events of the first half of this year, mainly (but not exclusively) related to the consequences of the pandemic, greatly influenced the alignment of forces in the art market. After quarantining the two major art fairs of Art Basel and quitting some of the long-standing sponsors of the Art Basel design fair, it became clear that the Swiss MCH Group, the parent company that owns the fairs, needed a new shareholder to continue its operations to cover the financial gap.
Rumors circulating in recent weeks have called various versions of who this potential shareholder might be. But it became known that the board of directors of the MCH Group decided to sell about 30% of the shares of the investment company Lupa Systems. The company was organized and managed by James Murdoch, the son of Rupert Murdoch.
Most likely, the transaction will be finalized at the next general meeting of the board of directors of the MCH Group, which will be held on August 3, 2020. Currently, a majority stake – 33.5% – belongs to the Basel State Administration. It remains unclear which of the shareholders of the MCH Group will be sold or diluted as a result of the transaction.
Lupa [Systems] is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Board of Directors and other shareholders of the company to promote the business so that it is beneficial to all interested parties. Ulrich Visher, Chairman of the Board of MCH Group, noted that the approval and support that they received from public shareholders was a decisive factor for this step. He also said that in Lupa Systems, they found not only a shareholder but also a strategic partner who, with the help of his wealth of experience, will be able to accelerate the necessary change in the company.
For Murdoch’s company, this will not be the first acquisition in the art market. Among other things, Lupa Systems owns a controlling stake in Vice Media and Tribeca Enterprises, producing the famous Vice edition and the Tribeca New York Film Festival. James Murdoch is a member of the Board of Directors of the Dia Art Foundation. And he previously served on the Board of Directors of Sotheby’s.