Leading article on the MCH Group – That’s it for Messe Basel

With the entry of the American investor James Murdoch, the MCH Group becomes a company where the decisions are made in Mumbai and New York. Basel is sinking into the provinces.

Great sadness at the exhibition center.  The MCH Group lost many parts of its business not only because of Covid-19.

Great sadness at the exhibition center. The MCH Group lost many parts of its business not only because of Covid-19.

Photo: Florian Bärtschiger

The Extraordinary General Assembly at the MCH Group was still going on on Friday morning when the sale of one of its residential and commercial properties in the Rosental was announced on real estate platforms. It is supposed to change hands for 14 million francs because it is no longer “necessary for business”.

«’Tout Bâle’ became ‘Peu Bâle’ mainly because it backed the wrong horses.”

The sale of exhibition hall 3 and the Basel Musical Theater to the municipality of Basel is also sealed. Here, a low single-digit million amount flows into the coffers of the ailing trade fair and event organizer.

With the factual takeover of power by James Murdoch, the son of the Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the sale was launched in Basel. The headquarters in Kleinbasel becomes the recipient of orders. In the future, the important decisions will be made either in Mumbai or New York. Murdoch is positioned globally with its Lupa Systems. At most, he has a respectable block of shares in common with Basel.

Art Basel as a bearer of hope

It makes sense that the MCH Group is selling halls and properties. Despite fresh capital of around 100 million francs, the equity ratio remains thin at 11 percent. There is a risk of further value adjustments. Insufficient utilization also increases the risk for Basel-Stadt. Either she is now buying more exhibition halls in order to then convert them expensively, or she collects lower building lease interest and hopes that the trade fair business will be revived on Saint Never’s Day.

104 years after the “Swiss Sample Fair” was founded, it has come to an end. After shutting down important traditional trade fairs, the MCH Group made a very late decision on a transformation. In the future, your focus will be even more on conquering virtual spaces. It will not keep its unique selling point. She becomes one of many organizers on the net. With these perspectives, exhibition halls are just a block on the already sick leg.

In the future, Murdoch will continue to thin out the MCH Group general store and focus on the prestigious Art Basel brand. He even has to do that if he doesn’t want to wash his millions in Basel down the Rhine. The filet piece, Art Basel, is now a global brand that Basel no longer owns alone. As a result of the climate debate, but also because of the corona pandemic and new market needs, the world’s trade fair and event stages will inevitably shift and will only be physically perceived where they also attract a sufficiently financially strong audience. Basel has already proven that it can only do this in individual cases such as Art or Swissbau.

The end of the large Basel exhibition center, sealed with Murdoch, will not put any further strain on the city’s self-esteem. The image of the troubled group has been battered for too long for that. The development for the city is worrying. The banking center has said goodbye to Zurich, the watch universe will meet in Geneva in the future, and the football capital of Switzerland has been in Bern for several years. Basel is sinking back into provinciality, but still likes to pretend it is the center of the world.

A leftist lack of identity

It would therefore be good if the city and canton could return to their actual strengths. Although these are not as provocative as a Rolex watch on the wrist, they are far more important in the matter. Basel is the leading logistics hub in Switzerland and one of the most important life sciences locations in the world. Maintaining a location is tedious, but more important than ever for Basel.

In the 16 years of its reign, the left-wing Basel in particular did not succeed in recollecting its Basel identity. Basel is stranger to itself today than it is to many strangers who travel to Basel from all over the world to live and work here.

“Tout Bâle” became “Peu Bâle” because it backed the wrong horses and pissed off the best horses, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, with a notorious malevolence. So, dear Basel residents, do less nostalgia for trade fairs and culture and once again take care of your fantastic small, medium-sized and very large companies with a global reputation in a sincere and not hypocritical manner.

“Basel is stranger to itself today than it is to many strangers.”

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