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Orange to launch €300m venture capital fund

13 марта 2012

France Telecom-Orange on Monday announced it will launch a €300 million venture capital fund in partnership with advertising giant Publicis and fund manager Iris Capital aimed at both early-stage and established tech start-ups.

The fund "will encourage the emergence of future leaders of the digital economy by bringing them funds at several stages of their development," said France Telecom-Orange CEO Stéphane Richard, in a statement.

Called OP Ventures, the vehicle is divided into three funds with distinct investment objectives. OP Ventures Growth will seek out established European companies and invest up to €15 million per project; OP Ventures Global will set its sights on start-ups outside Europe, also with a €15 million per-project ceiling; and OP Ventures Early Stage will provide early-stage and seed capital of up to €3 million to young companies based in Europe.

"There are a lot of smart engineers and entrepreneurs in France and in Europe who are involved in projects that are innovative and exciting, and our plan is to get funds flowing to their businesses as fast as possible so they can flourish," commented Maurice Lévy, CEO of Publicis Groupe.

The formation of OP Ventures will see France Telecom and Publicis each acquire a 24.5% holding in Paris-based Iris Capital Management, which will retain a controlling 51% stake. Iris has ploughed €870 million into 200 companies since its 1986 formation.

"This initiative illustrates a sweeping change in venture capital across Europe: renewed interest from the corporate world in sourcing innovation through venture capital investments," noted Richard Pelly, CEO of the European Investment Fund (EIF).

France Telecom-Orange's news follows on from Spanish rival Telefonica's announcement last week that it is extending its Wayra venture capital initiative to the U.K.

The telco plans to invest up to €75,000 in up to 20 promising start-ups, and provide mentoring services, in return for 10% equity stakes.

Источник: Total Telecom

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