* Fund to invest in promising internet, tech start-ups in Europe
* To invest 500,000 euros to 15 mln euros in early- to middle-stage companies (Adds further details)
By Marie Mawad
PARIS, Nov 7 (Reuters) - France Telecom and advertising agency Publicis are putting in 150 million euros to create a venture capital fund to invest in promising internet start-ups in Europe.
The companies said on Monday they would also seek funds from outside investors with a view to closing the fund at 300 million euros ($413 million).
The new fund, which has not yet been named, will seek to invest in early-stage companies in France and elsewhere in Europe by injecting anywhere from 500,000 euros to 1 million euro for a period of 5-6 years.
It will also back more established start-ups with investments of up to 15 million euros at a time.
“We want to participate more actively in the digital economy, and we also hope to benefit financially,” explained Publicis’s chief executive Maurice Levy at a joint press conference.
The companies said the initiative is intended to create a bridge between promising start-ups and bigger corporations, as well as addressing the need for funding for start-ups in Europe.
The move comes as France has emerged as an unexpectedly attractive place for Internet start-ups, helped by a generation of successful entrepreneurs, such as telecom operator Iliad founder Xavier Niel and the creator of dating website Meetic, Marc Simoncini.
Successful start-ups like music streaming site Deezer, professional social network Viadeo, and online retailer Vente-Privee have already gained critical mass in France and are now seeking to expand overseas.
French start-ups actually attracted more venture or seed capital in 2009 and 2010 than those in Britain and Germany, according to the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association.
“Investing in start-ups is not something that should be done only by business angels; we also have a responsibility,” said France Telecom’s chief executive Stephane Richard. ($1=0.727 euros)
Additional reporting by Lionel Laurent; Writing by Leila Abboud; Editing by Greg Mahlich