James Murdoch became the controlling shareholder of Art Basel’s parent company, MCH Group.
James Murdoch at the Palais des Festivals in 2014. Photo by Tony Barson/FilmMagic.
On Monday morning, shareholders at Art Basel’s MCH Group approved a suite of proposals submitted by the board of directors, chief among them being an investment of CHF 74.5 million ($81.5 million) on behalf of James Murdoch, son of News Corp media-mogul Rupert Murdoch, which has made him the company’s new anchor shareholder.
This comes only three days after Murdoch tendered his resignation letter from his father’s media empire, citing “disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s news outlets.” The younger Murdoch has previously criticized the ways in which certain News Corp outlets such as Fox News have belittled the perils of climate change.
According to Artnet News, while it was rumored that James Murdoch’s ties to his father’s company were a potential deal breaker, a vote amongst the company’s shareholders on Monday found that more than 70 percent were in favor of the proposals—a result likely bolstered by Murdoch's resignation.
Art Basel’s global director Marc Spiegler told Artnet:
The measures approved today are crucial steps towards strengthening the financial position of MCH Group, Art Basel’s parent company [. . .] At a time when the entire exhibitions industry faces enormous challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a very positive development.
In late July, MCH Group’s board of directors wrote a letter to shareholders urging them to take the deal, stating that such “financial restructuring measures are now indispensable to secure the group’s survival,” adding that the move would grant the struggling company fresh capital without having to resort to the emergency sale of assets. The group recently announced a projected 50 percent in losses for 2020, equating to tens of millions of dollars by the end of the year.
Eleni Lionaki and Jeff Palker, two associates from Murdoch’s private-investment firm Lupa Systems, will also be joining the board.