Art Basel’s owners look to expand business with regional fairs

MCH Group is in discussions to buy a stake in existing art events and build them

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The Basel-based MCH Group, which owns the Art Basel franchise, has announced plans to expand its portfolio and buy a stake in some existing regional art fairs run by other organisers. The group is currently in discussions with SME London, which manages Art16 in London, Hong Kong’s Art Central and Sydney Contemporary, and Angus Montgomery, whose roster includes the India Art Fair, Istanbul’s Art International and Photo Shanghai, among other organisers. (MCH acquired a majority stake in Tim Etchells and Sandy Angus’s Art HK fair in 2011, turning it into Art Basel in Hong Kong.)

A press release says the partnerships could include “joint ventures, acquisitions and new art fair launches”, but so far there is no indication which regions MCH will be targeting. A spokeswoman says the group has placed no restriction on the number or location of the fairs, but it will not expand in Art Basel’s hometown territories—Basel, Miami and Hong Kong.

In fact, MCH have been keen to distance its flagship art fair from the project altogether and say there will not be new Art Basel editions popping up. They stress that the regional art fairs will be run by autonomous local teams, under the newly formed Design and Regional Art Fairs business unit (which will also manage MCH’s involvement in the Design Miami and Basel fairs). This is headed up by Marco Fazzone, the former director of resources and finance at Art Basel. “We are looking to work with regional fairs who are rooted in their regional art scene and regional market, and want to help them become the best they can be,” Fazzone says.

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