Russia's biggest mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has agreed to purchase compatriot developer of face recognition systems VisionLabs for around RUB7 billion ($95 million) through a subsidiary set up to develop, launch and market compatible products globally.
As a result of the deal, VisionLabs will become the largest asset in the portfolio of Intema, which was established by MTS AI as a new brand aimed at developing, launching, and marketing AI-based products in the global arena.
The agreement provides for Intema to acquire a 100% equity stake in VisionLabs from the company's existing shareholders, which prior to the deal consisted of its founders (51.77%),Sberbank group companies (25.07%), and the Sistema PJSFC venture fund Sistema_VC (23.16%).
VisionLabs Co-founder Alexander Khanin will remain Chairman of the VisionLabs Board of Directors, and plans, together with Co-founder Ivan Laptev, to convert their shares in VisionLabs into an equity interest in MTS AI.
Viacheslav Nikolaev, MTS President & CEO, commented: “The acquisition of VisionLabs will reinforce our AI product portfolio in the promising computer vision space, which will enable us to further enhance the potential of the MTS digital ecosystem, as well as deliver world-class solutions for corporate clients in both Russia and abroad.”
Alexander Khanin, MTS AI CEO, commented: “Over the next few years, artificial intelligence technology will become a key driver for business and social development. At MTS AI, we are taking advantage of this window of opportunity by setting up Intema, which is focused on identifying promising AI-based concepts and product ideas that can be developed and launched with the help of investment and expert support. Looking ahead, we aim to create new breakthrough products at the intersection of diverse innovations from across our portfolio. At the same time, VisionLabs will continue to operate in line with its existing team and business strategy.”
Facial recognition technology is undoubtedly an area of growing interest for the telecoms sector and beyond, with potential applications going far beyond security and into various commercial uses.