Philanthropist Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, who stepped down as chair of the Biennale of Sydney earlier this year when artists threatened to boycott the art festival, has sold the shares in the company which sparked the row.
His privately-owned company, Transfield Holdings, sold its 11.3 per cent stake in Transfield Services, this week. At the same time, 0.4% of TSE owned by the Belgiorno-Nettis family and associated holdings was also sold.
ASX-listed Transfield Services won the $1.2 federal government contract to run the Manus Island and Nauru immigration detention centres earlier this year, leading several artists to withdraw from the Biennale, which the Belgiorno-Nettis family founded 41 years ago.
Transfield Holdings also withdrew as major sponsor of the Biennale after investing millions in the festival over four decades.
The sale is believed to be worth close to $100 million, with the share price doubling this year.
In a statement Transfield said the deal was an underwritten sale to a range of institutional investors.
This decision was taken following a strategic review of Transfield Holdings’ current investment portfolio and is in line with objectives to increase diversification and liquidity, the company said.
Although one of the artists who led the boycott claimed credit for the sale of the shareholding in the Sydney Morning Herald, the company said the arts dispute did not play a role in the decision.
Luca Belgiorno-Nettis continues to sponsor the arts through the Transfield Foundation.
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