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FB Roundup: François Pinault, Robert Kraft, Ashwin Damera

In this week’s FB Roundup, François Pinault looks to acquire music streaming platform Deezer; Robert Kraft’s family donates $24 million to Harvard Business School; and Ashwin Damera invests in an Indian venture lending firm.
French businessman François Pinault.

François Pinault looks to acquire music streaming platform Deezer
French businessman François Pinault [pictured left] is aiming to buy music streaming platform Deezer in a deal estimated at $1.6 billion.

The founder of the luxury group Kering and investment company Artémis, along with other founders of the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) I2PO, plans to take the company public if the deal goes ahead.

The SPAC deal has currently raised €135 million in private investment in public equity (PIPE) financing.

The bid  from I2PO, which also counts investment banker Matthieu Pigasse among their number, comes as music businesses, including Spotify and Universal, have capitalised on the streaming boom with initial public offerings (IPO). In 2015, Deezer attempted an IPO, but the plans were abandoned due to market conditions.

Deezer’s largest markets include France, Brazil and Germany, with an expected expansion to the US and UK and projected profitability by 2025 off around €1 billion in revenue.

If approved, Pinault’s son François-Henri Pinault will represent the family with a seat on the board, while current chief executive officer Jeronimo Folgueira is expected to continue in his current role.

In 2021, global music streaming earned $16.9 billion in revenue, according to trade group IFPI.

Robert Kraft donates $24 million to Harvard Business School
American billionaire Robert Kraft [pictured right] has had a fellowship fund named in his honour after his family donated $24 million to Harvard Business School.

The Robert K. Kraft Family Fellowship Fund will be the largest endowed fellowship fund at the famed school and will focus on supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds.

The donation marks the second major philanthropic gift the family has given to Harvard in the past seven years and follows on from other bestowments numbering in the hundreds of millions of dollars to causes including education, child and women-related issues, healthcare and youth sports.

“Being part of Harvard Business School changed my life, and I am deeply grateful for the chance to help others benefit from the transformational power of this experience,” Kraft said in a press release. “Our family is proud of the extraordinary difference that our fellowship recipients make in the world.”

“Harvard Business School has a long history of educating leaders who make a difference, among them Robert and [his son] Jonathan Kraft,” said Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow. “Through this extraordinary act of philanthropy, father and son ensure that more lives are transformed as theirs have been.”

“Having the voices of fellow students from a range of cultures, industries, and socioeconomic backgrounds in the classroom broadens everyone’s perspectives on the real-world challenges they will face as business leaders,” Harvard Business School Dean Srikant M. Datar added.

Robert Kraft, who is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Kraft Group and owner of the New England Patriots American football team, has an estimated net worth of $8.3 billion, according to Forbes.

Ashwin Damera invests in Indian venture lending firm
Indian entrepreneur Ashwin Damera [pictured left] has invested $31.5 million in venture lending company InnoVen Capital India Fund through his family office Damera Ventures.

The co-founder and CEO of edtech firm Eruditus (which works with top universities to provide executive education) has made the move after raising $350 million in debt from global investment management company Canada Pension Plan Investment Board earlier this year.

“This investment will give us exposure to venture debt, which is a unique asset class,” said Damera of the family office which he co-manages with wife Bhagyashree. “I have known InnoVen for many years and have a strong appreciation for the strong franchise/portfolio they have built.

“As an entrepreneur, this investment also aligns with my goal of investing back into the venture ecosystem as the capital will eventually support many promising startups, as they scale up.”

"We are excited to welcome Ashwin as a major investor in our fund,” said Ashish Sharma, managing partner at InnoVen Capital India Fund, which presents debt capital solutions, acquisition finance, growth loans and working capital, with offices in India, China, and Singapore.

“While we are raising capital from several classes of investors, it’s always special to have successful founders invest with us, as they bring value beyond capital. Over the past few years, the ecosystem has seen several founders generate some liquidity and many have allocated capital to venture debt, as part of their asset allocation"

InnoVen Capital India Fund currently has a portfolio of 25 companies, including seven unicorns, and they expect to close the fund this financial year.

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