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Orange and Publicis to create digital startup fund

France Telecom/Orange and advertising agency Publicis Group have teamed up to launch a new venture capital fund to finance and develop digital economy startups.

The pair have committed to jointly invest €150 million in the fund, and will invite other investors to join with a target of reaching €300 million.

The fund’s targets for investment will be companies focusing on digital technology, content and services, including online marketing, e-commerce, mobile content and services, online gaming and social networks, as well as supporting technologies including middleware, cloud computing, security, and online payments.

Seed capital and early-stage investment will target fledgling companies in France and Europe, with investments of up to €1 million. Later-stage financing for more established companies in France and Europe will provide up to €15 million, while at a later stage the fund may opt to invest in start-ups outside Europe, alongside American or Asian partner funds.

Separately, Orange has acquired a 34.15% minority stake in Cascadia, the company newly formed to hold radio group Skyrock’s web operations, for €14 million. According to Orange, where Skyrock.com is the leading blog platform in France among the 12-24 age group in terms of pages viewed, recording nearly one billion page views per month.