Media Tycoon James Murdoch May Soon Own More Than 40 Percent of the MCH Group, Art Basel’s Parent Company

Murdoch, a former CEO of 21st Century Fox, is looking to own up to 44 percent of the company.

James Murdoch. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for National Geographic.

In an effort to shore up its slacking business prospects, the MCH group, which owns Art Basel, is looking to bring on James Murdoch as a new investor.

Murdoch, a former CEO of 21st Century Fox and the son of Fox News chief Rupert Murdoch, is looking to put nearly $80 million into the company and to own at least one-third of it, as MCH seeks a capital increase.

He would make the purchase through his investment arm, Lupa Systems, after which he would be added to the MCH Group’s board of directors.

The company announced its intentions to sell to Murdoch today, July 10.

Today’s announcement is a positive development for Art Basel’s parent company,” Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel, said in a statement.

“If the capital increase and related measures proposed today are approved by MCH’s shareholders, this will put the Group on firm financial footing for the foreseeable future.”

The MCH board will propose the $111 million capital increase at a shareholder meeting on August 3.

Marc Spiegler, global director of Art Basel. Photograph courtesy of Art Basel.

Even before the pandemic hit, grinding the event industry to a halt, MCH was having financial struggles.

The company’s 2019 annual report, published in March, anticipated losses of between $138 million and $180 million for 2020. In April, the company laid off 150 employees.

“This comprehensive package of measures is needed to master this situation,” Bernd Stadlwieser, MCH’s CEO, said of the capital increase. “And it is also needed for implementing our strategy, working on new business opportunities, and strengthening our long-term competitive position.”

Murdoch founded Lupa Systems in 2019, after his family sold 21st Century Fox to Disney for $71.3 billion. He formerly served on the board of Sotheby’s and was named to the board of the Dia Foundation in 2016.

Current MCH group shareholders will be given priority access to buy the new shares when they are released, and depending on the number that opt in, Murdoch—who has promised to buy all the unsold shares—could own between 30 and 44 percent of the company.

The largest current shareholder is the Canton of BaselStadt, the state that oversees the city of Basel, which owns 33.5 of the company.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics