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C4 investment fund chief departs

The head of the indie investment fund at UK broadcaster Channel 4 is stepping down after three-and-a-half years in the role.

Former Vice exec and Nutopia MD Laura Franses was brought in to head the Indie Growth Fund when it launched in 2014.

Investments from the £20m (US$25.46m) fund have since followed in 13 companies, including Barcroft Media, Arrow Media and Firecrest Film.

In January, Leeds-based True North became the first of the original batch of investment-receiving companies to be sold on when it was purchased by European satcaster Sky, providing funds for C4 to plough back into supporting the UK creative sector.

Franses, whose resignation was announced today, will leave C4 later this year. Hers is the latest executive departure from the channel, with CEO David Abraham revealing in March that he would step down at the end of 2017 after seven years with the channel, to be replaced by former Shine CEO Alex Mahon.

Chief creative officer Jay Hunt, who had been linked with Abraham’s job, announced she was stepping down earlier this month.

Abraham said: “The Channel 4 Growth Fund now makes an important and varied contribution to the creative industries across the UK. When it was launched in 2013, it was a plan. Laura has helped to make it a reality with great skill, energy and judgement. We all owe her huge thanks for that.”

Franses added: “I came to Channel 4 with a blank canvas and three years later have initiated and completed 13 transactions, including investment into the unknown Renowned, virtual reality company Parable, leading sports company Whisper Films, Simon Chinn’s TV company Lightbox, and the successful exit of True North.

“Having worked so closely with the extraordinary founders at our investee companies supporting them as an investor, I’m now ready to join their ranks and be an entrepreneur looking at opportunities in the start-up space.”

Jonathan Allan will lead a process to hire the replacement for Franses.

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