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French firm Orange invests in Israeli start-up

Months after its CEO spoke of cutting all ties to Israel, telecom giant buys into Hola

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Orange CEO Stephane Richard in Jerusalem, June 12, 2015. (screen capture/PMO video)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Orange CEO Stephane Richard in Jerusalem, June 12, 2015. (screen capture/PMO video)

A French telecommunications company that generated controversy earlier this year when its CEO said he wanted to cut all business ties to Israel has invested in an Israel-based start-up.

Hola, a video distribution network for publishers, said Wednesday that it raised $17 million in a funding round led by a strategic partnership between France’s Orange and Publicis Groupe, Reuters reported.

Hola, based in Netanya, has raised a total of $30 million. The company was founded by CEO Ofer Vilenski and its chief technology officer, Derry Shribman, according to Globes.

Speaking in Cairo in June, Orange CEO Stephan Richard said he would cancel the company’s partnership with an Israeli affiliate “tomorrow morning” if not for contractual penalties. However, within a week he backtracked, and in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the company would never boycott the Jewish state.

Israeli flags are seen inside the "Partner Orange" Communications Company offices in the city of Rosh Ha'ayin, Israel, Thursday, June 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
Israeli flags are seen inside the “Partner Orange” Communications Company offices in the city of Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel, Thursday, June 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

But Orange and its Israeli provider, Partner Communications, announced in June that they had signed a new agreement that gives each the right to terminate their brand license agreement in the next two years.

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