Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, has agreed to acquire a 51% stake in Speech Technology Center (STC) from Gazprombank. Digital Horizon venture capital fund has also agreed to acquire a stake in STC. Gazprombank remains a strategic shareholder in STC and will continue to play an active role in the company’s future development. The deal is scheduled to close by the end of May 2019.
The shareholders will create a new board of directors at STC, which will consist of four Sberbank representatives including the chairman of the board and two representatives from Gazprombank, as well as one representative from Digital Horizon.
STC is a leading Russian developer of biometric technology. The deal will give STC access to the resources and expertise of two of Russia’s largest financial institutions, including in the field of artificial intelligence and big data. In addition, the expertise of Digital Horizon’s international team will provide STC with additional competitive advantage on the global market for biometrics, which is expected to reach an estimated $40 bln by 2022.
Stanislav Kuznetsov, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank:
“For Sberbank, this deal is a logical step on the road to digital transformation and the construction of a biometric platform for the Bank’s growing ecosystem. In the future we will use this platform to create a range of services that will take interaction with clients to a completely new level in terms of ease and information security. In turn, Sberbank’s expertise in AI and big data will help STC broaden the use of speech technology in Russia, bring Russian technology to foreign markets and help the company compete for global leadership.”
Dmitry Zauers, Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of Gazprombank:
“Gazprombank Group has successful experience of investing in promising hi-tech companies. This can be seen in our long-term partnership with STC. We intend to maintain our strategic focus on developing this area as part of the Group’s work to deploy cutting-edge biometric solutions for the Bank’s everyday operations in the interests of our many retail and corporate clients.”
Dmitry Dyrmovksy, CEO of Speech Technology Center Group:
“STC is gaining another serious partner. The synergy with Sberbank will significantly boost the development of our company’s technologies and products. We are receiving access to the expertise and competencies of one of the world’s largest retail banks. STC is already a key player on the biometrics market, but with such a team behind us we plan to become a global leader in the next few years.”
Alan Vaksman, co-founder of Digital Horizon:
“This is a historic deal, not only for the development of biometrics, but also for the Russian venture industry. Thanks to the long-term vision of Gazprombank, which saw potential in STC more than a decade ago, today Sberbank — the leader of the Russian digital economy — is building a biometric platform that is truly unique by world standards. As an investor in STC we will continue our work on positioning the company in global markets and growing its shareholder value.”
STC is a leading developer of voice and facial biometric systems and solutions in the field of professional data processing and machine learning. It is well positioned to become a leading international player in this area. The company’s products are sold in more than 75 countries. In Russia, STC’s technology is used by a large number of major corporations, including Sberbank, Gazprombank, VTB, Vimpelcom, Rostelecom, and Russian Railways.