Amid coronavirus-related delays for two of its top art fairs, MCH Group, the Swiss live marketing company that owns Art Basel, is set to have a new anchor shareholder. That new shareholder will be Lupa Systems, an investment company founded and run by James Murdoch. The deal will see Lupa Systems take on around one-third of shares at the company, and it is likely to be finalized at a general meeting on August 3.
“MCH Group’s long history of innovation for customers, civic commitment to economic and cultural life, and deep investment in its platforms and communities make for a long-term business that can grow, invest, and flourish,” Murdoch said in a statement. “At Lupa we are grateful for the opportunity to work with the Board, alongside our fellow shareholders, to help drive forward the business and create value for all stakeholders.”
Murdoch’s company has made several notable investments, including taking a majority stake in Vice Media, the company that owns the publication Vice, and a controlling one in Tribeca Enterprises, which facilitates New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. He is currently a member of the Dia Art Foundation’s board, and he previously was on Sotheby’s board.
The potential new investment comes as MCH Group experiences tumult following the cancelation of Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Basel in Switzerland, both because of the pandemic. The 2021 edition of Baselworld, a marquee Swiss watch fair owned by MCH Group, was also called off for coronavirus-related reasons, and in April, MCH Group laid off more than 150 employees.
Murdoch formerly served as CEO of 21st Century Fox. His father is Rupert Murdoch, who founded Fox Media.
Ulrich Vischer, chairman of MCH’s board, said in a statement, “The approval and support that we received from the public sector shareholders is decisive for a successful turnaround of the company. With Lupa Systems we have not only found an additional anchor shareholder but also a strategic partner that brings a breadth of experience and will help to accelerate the necessary transformation of the company.”