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New Knobloch venture raises $325m

The fledgling investment venture headed up by former WarnerMedia veteran Iris Knobloch has raised €275m (US$325m) as it aims to become a leading entertainment company in Europe.

Iris Knobloch

I2PO was announced earlier this week by co-founders Knobloch, Artemis – the holding company of France’s billionaire Pinault family – and Centerview Partners banker Matthieu Pigasse’s financial holding company Combat Holding.

It launched on Wednesday with a private placement – when a business sells corporate bonds or shares to investors without offering them for sale on the open market – and aimed to raise at least €250m.

Focusing on “entertainment and leisure,” the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) has been established as a newly incorporated public limited company registered in France. It is the first of its kind to be co-founded and led by a woman, according to the firm.

SPACs are investment vehicles that list on the stock market with the intention of finding a private company to merge with.

Knobloch, who serves as chair of the board and CEO of I2PO, stepped down as president of WarnerMedia in France, Benelux, Germany, Austria and Switzerland last month after 25 years at the company.

I2PO will start trading on Euronext Paris on July 20 and is targeting the acquisition of “an established brand which is well known in the entertainment and leisure sector, with a set of solid competitive advantages and an experienced management team fully committed to long-term value creation.”

Other SPACs to have launched in Europe include France’s Mediawan, which arrived on the stock market as a SPAC in 2016 before acquiring a raft of European TV companies, including one this week.

Knobloch said: “By launching I2PO, we have successfully established together with Artemis and Combat Holding, the first listed SPAC in Europe dedicated to entertainment and leisure.

“The success of this private placement demonstrates investors’ confidence in the unique combination of the founders and in our ability to successfully deliver on I2PO’s ambition: accompanying a European champion in conquering the entertainment and leisure market globally.

“Europe as a cultural, entertainment and leisure hub, has a vibrant industry that has substantial growth potential, driven by technological innovation which accelerated during the sanitary crisis. It is also a fragmented market that offers considerable consolidation opportunities.

“Our experienced team will leverage its global network to join with the right company for a long-term value creation partnership and accompany its founders and management to take their business to the next level as a publicly traded company.”

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