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Google partners with telecoms giant Orange to invest in start-ups

  • Google has teamed up with Orange via its venture capital fund, Orange Digital Ventures, to invest in start-ups.
  • The two will jointly assess investment opportunities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Balint Porneczi | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google has partnered with with French telecommunications firm Orange through its corporate venture fund to invest in start-ups in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Orange said Thursday that its 350 million euro ($409 million) venture capital fund, called Orange Digital Ventures, would jointly assess investment opportunities in industries like network connectivity, cybersecurity, cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and financial technology.

It added that the partnership with Google could lead to potential synergies and commercial partnerships between the two companies.

"It is the first time that Google has signed such an agreement, not only with a corporate fund but a venture fund," Yann Kandelman, head of investments and development at Orange Digital Ventures, told CNBC in a phone interview Thursday.

Kandelman said that the partnership made sense as Orange's focus on telecoms and Google's focus on tech firms were interrelated.

"Both topics are closely intertwined," he said. "All of Google's businesses require you to be connected online and in the same way traditional telecoms services have become more and more over the top and cloud defined."

Kandelman said the partnership would give Google access to start-ups in Africa, where the telecoms giant has a strong presence.

"Orange's ecosystem is consistent with Google's know-how and our ability to accelerate the growth of start-ups," Carlo d'Asaro Biondo, EMEA president of Google Partnerships, said in a statement on Thursday.

"This partnership is a way to enhance our collective contribution to innovation in this region."