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Publicis Groupe and France Telecom team to launch €300m tech start-up fund

Publicis Groupe and France Telecom are launching a venture capital start-up fund for tech companies aiming to raise €300m. The two companies are putting in the first €150m.

The new fund will be managed independently of Publicis Groupe and France Telecom and will seek to back ventures in online marketing, e-commerce, mobile content and services, online gaming and social networks.

Publicis Groupe’s CEO Maurice Levy says: “The need for a major, dedicated venture capital fund became obvious while Jean-Pierre Jouyet (a top French civil servant) and I were writing our report on the intangible economy in November 2006, and it became even more clear during the e-G8 Forum on the digital economy in May.”

Publicis Groupe has made technology the cornerstone of its recent expansion, buying digital media companies Digitas, Razorfish and Rosetta Marketing Group as well as launching start-ups of its own.

There is clearly the possibility that PG might invest further in some of the ventures created by the new fund but a more immediate benefit is further cementing the company’s status at the heart of France’s business establishment. Levy is head of the French employers’ association and close to leading French politicians including incumbent French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

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