Telefonica targets small companies for investment

In an effort to catch up with its European rivals, Telefonica has appointed a director of innovation to specifically look for investment opportunities in entrepreneurial companies that are involved in mobile, fixed line (including broadband) and TV/IPTV.

The new venture capital programme is being headed by Russ Shaw, previously O2 UK's marketing director, who will be making investments on behalf of Telefonica's three divisions: O2 Europe, Telefonica Spain and Telefonica Latin America. Shaw said he had already signed two deals with undisclosed companies - one of which is based in London. He said he expected to complete three more investments by the end of the year.

The local operators in each country will act as sponsors of the smaller companies and in most cases will take a seat on their boards. Shaw added, "If we can get closer to these companies it helps us gain a better insight into what's going on in these areas. These businesses benefit from our global experience and in return we get to hear a more entrepreneurial point of view."

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