The Man Booker Prize may be forced to change its name, as hedge fund Man Group cuts its ties with the UK’s most prestigious fiction award.

The company had sponsored the £50,000 prize for English-language fiction since 2002, but today the Booker Prize Foundation announced that their partnership was “coming to an end”, adding that Man Group would instead be “focusing its resources” on other charitable initiatives in future.

“The trustees are in discussion with a new sponsor and are confident that the new funding will be in place for 2020,” they said. “In the meantime the two prizes will run as usual this year.”

It is only the second time in the prize’s 50 year history that it has lost its main sponsor. The prize was originally called the Booker-McConnell Prize, named after the food wholesale company that sponsored it from 1969.

The prize kept “Booker” as part of its name after losing the company’s support in 2002, but Man Group may not receive the same free publicity in future. The Booker Prize Foundation did not respond immediately when contacted about a possible change of name. 

Last July, the prize faced strong criticism over its association with Man Group from Birdsong author Sebastian Faulks, who branded the company “the enemy”.