The Booker Prize Foundation said yesterday that it was "confident" of finding a new sponsor following the decision of the hedge fund company the Man Group to end its association with the Booker Prize and the Booker International Prize. Discussions with a prospective sponsor were underway, the foundation said.
The moves do not affect this year's Man Booker International Prize, to be presented in May, and the Man Booker Prize (October).
Press accounts of the news highlighted a "strained" relationship between the hedge fund company and the Booker organizers. Last autumn, Rachel Cooke reported that Man Group CEO Luke Ellis was less keen on his firm's involvement with the prize than his predecessor, Manny Roman, had been.
The prize has come in for a good deal of criticism following its welcome, in 2014, of entries by U.S. authors, with Cooke's piece carrying a headline that many publishers and authors have been asking: "Has the Booker Prize lost its mojo?"
Also widely reported over the weekend was Sebastian Faulks' recent comment that those at the Man Group are "not the sort of people who should be sponsoring literary prizes; they're the kind of people literary prizes ought to be criticizing".
The Man Group has sponsored the Booker since 2002. Ellis described the association as "a privilege". But the group said that it was focusing its resources on its newly established "Paving the Way" campaign, which aims to enhance diversity in its industry, and to expand the firm’s global charitable initiatives, focused on literacy and numeracy.
Helena Kennedy, chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, 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.
"We would like to put on record the Foundation’s appreciation of Man Group’s sponsorship. 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."
A version of this story originally appeared in the U.K.-based publication BookBrunch.