France Tel partners for $400m tech fund

Michael Carroll
13 Mar 2012

France Telecom today became the second European telco to detail plans for a digital venture capital fund in the space of a week, revealing partnerships that establish a pot of at least €300 million ($394.5 million) for tech firms.

The telco is teaming with Publicis Groupe and Iris Capital Management to create the fund, which will immediately provide up to $19.7 million per project to established French and European firms, and non-European start ups. The trio plans to also bring online a seed capital fund for early-stage companies in France and Europe, which will make up to €3 million available per project.

Stéphane Richard, chairman and chief executive of France Telecom, hailed the project – named OP Ventures - as “a pioneer in its field,” and claimed it will “encourage the emergence of future leaders of the digital economy.”

France Telecom and Publicis Groupe will each own a 24.5% stake in the venture capital firm, with the remaining 51% held by Iris Capital Management.

The news comes less than a week after rival Telefonica revealed plans to provide research funding to 30,000 young people in its European markets. The scheme will provide up to £300 (€358) per person and includes training and mentoring by Telefonica staff. The operator will also award up to £2,500 in second round funding to the projects it judges to be the best.

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