Orange and Publicis Groupe partner with Iris Capital to float $200 million VC fund for digital economy

Telecom Lead Europe: France Telecom-Orange and Publicis
Groupe announced their partnership with Iris Capital Management to set up $200
million VC fund for digital economy.

Added to Iris’ pre-existing funding commitments from
investors – including the European Investment Fund and French public investor
CDC Entreprises — this will result in a total investment capacity in excess of
300 million euros.

Orange and Publicis Groupe will each acquire a minority 24.5
percent stake in Paris-based Iris. Iris’ management will retain a controlling
51 percent stake.

OP Ventures Growth will target companies in France and
Europe, providing up to 15 million euros per project. OP Ventures Global will
invest in start-ups outside Europe, also with funds of up to 15 million euros
per project. OP Ventures Early Stage will provide seed-capital and early-stage
investment of up to 3 million euros to young companies in France and Europe.

Both OP Ventures Growth and OP Ventures Global will be
immediately operational, while the third fund, OP Ventures Early Stage, will
open for business in the course of the second quarter of 2012. All three funds
will be dedicated to companies involved in creating value within the digital

“This joint initiative with Publicis Groupe and Iris is
a pioneer in its field. It complements Orange’s considerable effort in terms of
research and development, and it will encourage the emergence of future leaders
of the digital economy by bringing them funds at several stages of their
development,” said Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of France

“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,” said Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO of
Publicis Groupe.

The company will continue to be run by Pierre de Fouquet and
Antoine Garrigues.

Iris has invested some 870 million euros in more than 200
companies since its launch in 1986. Recent investments include French company
Mediastay, an online games monetization platform; Berlin-based search-engine
optimization company Searchmetrics; and Clear2Pay, a Belgian company
specialized in payment technology solutions.

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

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