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Art Basel Parent Company MCH Group to Divest from Regional Fairs

MCH Group, the parent company of Art Basel, is pulling out of regional fairs, the firm announced last week. After a major expansion into regional art fairs in 2016, the firm is divesting from its 60 percent stake in the India Art Fair and its 25 percent share in Art Düsseldorf. MCH Group will also be pulling out of its participation in Singapore’s Art SG, which was slated to debut in November 2019, and will not be moving forward with its expansion of the car fair Grand Basel to Miami Beach this year, as previously planned. 

Instead, the firm plans to streamline its focus on Art Basel and Masterpiece London—the latter of which will be expanded internationally, with Asia being a likely first step—in an effort to prioritize “strategic initiatives and investments,” “reduce costs,” and “boost [efficiency] through competence bundling and group-wide synergies.” Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, who became interim CEO in September, said: “This is a highly demanding process and will take a prolonged period of time. Our biggest challenge lies in finding the right balance between the measures required to stabilize the company and the investments which—despite limited resources—we must make in the future.” 

The company has undergone various recent upheavals. Longtime former CEO René Kamm resigned in August after Swatch pulled out of Baselworld—the leading trade fair for watches and the company’s flagship event—and half of Baselworld’s exhibitors left between the 2017 and 2018 editions. 

Asked whether recent changes would impact its art fairs, the company told Artnet: “The situation of Baselworld (and the decision of Swatch Group) and the resignation of René Kamm do not have any impact regarding Art Basel. Art Basel is a very healthy division within MCH Group and is financially in a very sound position. This is due to the great support of the galleries and corporate partners, and due to the expansion of Art Basel into Asia in 2011. . . . MCH Group and Art Basel are confident that current developments within MCH Group will not impact the quality of the Art Basel shows.”