A subsidiary of MTS, Russia’s largest mobile network operator, acquires facial recognition specialist VisionLabs in a deal valued at 7 billion rubles, or around 95.4 million US dollars. The final value of the transaction will depend on how VisionLabs performs over the next three years.
The acquisition is led by Intema, a subsidiary of MTS AI, through a 100% stake of existing shareholders of VisionLabs. This includes the roughly 25% stake held by Sberbank, which first announced a partnership with VisionBox to create a multimodal authentication platform in November 2017.
It will also include a significant stake taken by Sistema Venture Capital in 2016, which was clearly impressed at the time by VisionLabs’ Luna facial recognition and computer vision platform.
As Reuters reports, Sberbank and MTS have stepped up their business activities beyond their core businesses (banking and mobile network services, respectively). Biometric technologies are increasingly used in financial services and payment applications in Russia, as illustrated by the face payment system of the Moscow metro system; and Sberbank has a controlling stake in Speech Technology Center, which offers its own biometric technologies, including facial recognition and voice biometrics.
For its part, MTS said when announcing the acquisition that the agreement aims to improve its artificial intelligence portfolio.
The deal offers the latest illustration of the intensification of mergers and acquisitions in the biometrics sector. Just last month, we learned of the Acceptto acquisition by SecureAuth, the Acuant acquisition by GBG, the Cotter acquisition by Stytch and the EastCoast Solutions acquisition by Precise Biometrics.
December 13, 2021 – by Alex Perala