Booker Prize loses sponsorship from Man Group

One of Britain's most prestigious literary prizes will have a new sponsor by 2020

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: The Man Booker Prize shortlist of six books are arranged for a photograph during a press conference at Riverbank House on September 20, 2018 in London, England. The shortlisted books for the prestigious prize are Milkman by Anna Burns, Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, Everything Under by Daisy Johnson, The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, The Overstory by Richard Powers and The Long Take by Robin Robertson. The 2018 winner, who will receive £50,000, will be announced on October 16, 2018. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
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Hedge fund Man Group is cutting ties with Britain's prestigious Booker Prize Foundation after nearly two decades, both sides announced on Sunday, January 27.

The group has invested £25 million (Dh121m) in the literary prize, its international iteration and other related events and activities in the past 17 years.

Now, the Booker Prize Foundation "are in discussion with a new sponsor", said its trustees, adding that they "are confident that the new funding will be in place for 2020."

The two 2019 prizes will run as usual.

'Truly honoured'

Luke Ellis, Man Group's chief executive, said the company was "truly honoured to have been a part of something so special and unique", but it would "focus its resources" on a new campaign to expand the firm's charitable initiatives.

Helena Kennedy, the Booker Prize Foundation chairwoman, said: "Man Group has been an excellent and very generous sponsor for nearly 18 years since 2002.

"With their support we have seen the prizes and our charitable activities flourish so that today the prizes can claim to be the most significant literary awards in the world.

"However, all good things must come to an end and we look forward to taking the prizes into the next phase with our new supporter."

The history of the award

The winner of the Man Booker Prize receives £52,500 (Dh255,000), although the bigger benefit is seen as a spike in sales, which invariably follow.

Previous winners include V S Naipaul, Iris Murdoch, Salman Rushdie, J M Coetzee, Kingsley Amis, Kazuo Ishiguro, A S Byatt and Ian McEwan among others.

Last year, author Anna Burns won for her novel Milkman, making it the first time a Northern Irish writer had been awarded the prize.

Writer Anna Burns delivers a speech after she was presented with the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2018 by Britain's Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall during the prize's 50th year at the Guildhall in London, Britain, October 16, 2018. Frank Augstein/Pool via REUTERS
Writer Anna Burns was the first Northern Irish writer to win the Man Booker Prize, in 2018. REUTERS

The award, launched in 1969, was only open to novelists from Commonwealth states until it began permitting those from other English-speaking countries in 2014.

The decision was controversial, leading to fears that the United States would dominate. Two American writers have since won.

Author Sebastian Faulks, who was once a judge on the prize, but has never won it, last year criticised Man Group as "the enemy", reported The Sunday Times.

He said they were "not the sort of people who should be sponsoring literary prizes, they're the kind of people literary prizes ought to be criticising".

Ellis reportedly hit back at last year's event, saying: "Literature and the arts need their champions to step in where public money has been pulled out."