FDJ creates €30m startup investment fund

23 July 2019

French gaming giant La Française des Jeux (FDJ) has launched V13 Invest, a new €30m (£27.0m/$33.5m) fund that will allow it to take stakes in new startups that can enhance its business processes.

The new fund will be managed by tech-focused investment fund Serena, which will target minority shareholdings in European startups as it looks to develop and diversify its activities.

V13 Invest has been launched as part of FDJ’s ‘open innovation’ strategy, initiated by chief executive Stéphane Pallez and designed to accelerate its transformation into a digital-driven business.

In particular it will focus on startups working on solutions that allow it to enhance its customer experience and payment services, especially around points of sale. The fund will also look to invest in entertainment businesses, following its move into esports competitions in 2017.

As part of the operator’s digital transformation, under the FDJ 2020 plan, it has set aside €500m to invest in digital activities, including investments in innovation funds such as Partech Partners, Raise Investment, Level Up and Trust-Esport. To date €400m has been invested in this transformation plan.

It has also partnered incubators and accelerators such as Paris&Co and Techstars, as well as digital think tanks and the France Digitale association. This has boosted digital sales, which were up 12% year-on-year in the operator's 2018 results, with 1.9m registered online customers.

The FDJ 2020 strategy is being implemented against the backdrop of the operator’s privatisation, with the French state to divest the majority of its 72% stake in the business through an initial public offering. The Agence des Participations de l’Etat (APE), the state agency that handles the privatisation of state assets, has formed a syndicate of eight investment banks to manage the process.