Iris Capital opens in Asia

The French VC firm has opened offices in Beijing and Tokyo aiming to capitalise on the growing cross-border trend between Europe and Asia.

Paris-based venture capital firm Iris Capital has made its first foray into Asia by opening two offices in the region, following the activity that the firm’s two largest LPs have had in the region, according to Nicolas du Cray, venture partner in the firm’s new Beijing office.

Iris’ two sponsors are Orange, a pan-European telecom company, and Publicis Group, a worldwide public relations and advertising company, both headquartered in Paris. They have been in Asia for some time, and selected Iris to be the fund manager of their international fund, OP Ventures Global, du Cray told PE Asia.

The firm hopes to “provide a bridge” to bring European technology to Asia, he added, focusing primarily on the digital innovation sector.

“The idea is to be a cross-border fund,” du Cray said. The €300 million fund officially launched in March, and it has already closed. The firm does not aim to add any more LPs to the fund until they have developed a track record in Asia, according to du Cray.

Iris will have three venture partners in its Asia offices – one in Beijing, two in Tokyo. The firm is currently working on several deals and hopes to close a transaction in Asia early next year, du Cray said.

Du Cray previously worked with Orange in Beijing for 10 years before joining Iris when its Beijing office opened.

Iris hopes its additional presence in Asia will allow it to not only “better accompany our young European portfolio companies in their international expansion”, but also to invest in companies seeking to expand into Europe, according to a company statement.

Outbound cross-border activity has been picking up in Asia (China in particular), and a primary target has been Europe. Some of the largest deals of the year include Shandong Heavy Industrial Group’s $915 million investment in private equity-owned Kion Group in Germany, and Lion Capital’s $1.9 billion exit of UK-based Weetabix to Chinese state-run enterprise, Bright Food.

Since its 1986 founding, Iris has invested more than €900 million in 200 companies, according to the statement. The firm has offices in Paris, Düsseldorf, Riyadh and Dubai, and opened its San Francisco and Montreal offices at the same time it opened its Asia offices.