Investor Calls for Breakup of Baselworld Organizer MCH Group

A top private investor in Baselworld watch and jewelry fair organizer MCH Group AG said the company should be broken up after big clients abandoned the event, according to an interview with Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger.

Erhard Lee, who represents asset manager AMG Fondsverwaltung AG, said the company’s individual business areas should be separated and led as units or be integrated into larger companies.

A spokesman for MCH wasn’t immediately available to comment outside of normal office hours. The company on Tuesday acknowledged with “significant surprise and regret” that important exhibitors were abandoning the event.

Even before the coronavirus put much of the world under lockdown, Baselworld was losing major clients. Swiss watchmaker Breitling AG last year said it would skip the show to focus on its own marketing “summit.” LVMH said Friday its TAG Heuer, Hublot, Zenith and Bulgari brands would also abandon Baselworld as they expect fewer visitors.

The biggest investors in MCH Group, which operates convention centers in Zurich and Basel, are local and regional governments. The number of exhibitors has been declining as watchmakers reconsider whether it’s worth attending and debate the need to use such events to sell their products. AMG owns less than 3% of the shares, according to a Swiss stock exchange filing earlier this month.

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