Publicis sets up €150m digital venture capital fund

Publicis Groupe and telecoms giant France Télécom-Orange are investing €150m (£129m) in a new venture to fund digital start-up projects across the EU.

Maurice Lévy: chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe
Maurice Lévy: chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe

The fund will offer finance to budding entrepreneurs in the digital economy, particularly in France and the European Union, focusing on digital technology, content and services.

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 €1m.

Later-stage financing for more established companies in France and Europe will provide up to €15m per project.

A fund may also be set up at a later to date to invest in start-ups outside Europe, alongside American or Asian partner funds.

Maurice Lévy, chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe, said: "All over Europe, there are young companies with powerful, game-changing ideas, and they're not getting the financial backing they deserve.

"We feel that this project is in the national and European interest, and I hope that we’ll be swiftly joined by other institutions and funds so that we can operate on an even more massive scale."

The fund will be operated by a management company with investment decisions made by an independent investment committee, which will be announced at a later date.

Publicis and France Télécom-Orange are also inviting other investors to join the venture in a bid to reach a fund target of €300m.

Stéphane Richard, chairman and chief executive officer at France Telecom Orange, said: "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."

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