FT and Publicis Groupe launch venture-capital fund to boost development of the digital economy

7 Nov 2011

French behemoth France Telecom (FT), owner of the global Orange brand, and Publicis Groupe, will today plans to launch a new venture capital fund, the telco said via a press release. FT says the fund will finance and develop budding entrepreneurs in the digital economy, particularly in France and the European Union (EU), building on ‘the sector’s potential for spectacular creativity and growth’. The Paris-based group said the fund remains subject to the approval of the relevant authorities.

FT and Publicis Groupe are jointly committed to investing EUR150 million (USD206.9 million) in the new fund, they said. Further, the two parties will also seek other investors to join them as they look to reach a target of EUR300 million of investment. The fund will focus its efforts on companies working in the digital technology, content and services spaces. Their joint press release said that this would likely entail sectors such as online marketing, e-commerce, mobile content and services, online gaming and social networks, as well as their associated technologies and infrastructures such as middleware, cloud computing, security and online payments.

‘The fund’s investments will be divided into three distinct categories. Seed-capital and early-stage investment will target fledgling companies in France and Europe, with investments of up to EUR1 million. Later-stage financing for more established companies in France and Europe will provide up to EUR15 million per project. Thirdly, at a later time the fund may also opt to invest in start-ups outside Europe, alongside American or Asian partner funds,’ the statement read.

The new fund will be operated by a management company, with investment decisions made by an independent investment committee, details of which will be released at a later date. ‘French investment capital has been suffering for far too long from the absence of a solid ecosystem to link young companies together with larger groups, research centres and government systems,’ said FT chief executive Stephane Richard. ‘We’re very happy to be working with Publicis Groupe to finance and support digital start-up projects. This is a surging growth market and it’s an important challenge: our job will be to contribute to the emergence of tomorrow’s leaders. From the point of view of [FT], the new fund complements our investments in R&D, as well as creating a terrific opportunity to be present at the birth of growth projects.’

France, Orange Group