Three people talked about the negotiations between the Citadel and the Center for Speech Technology (MDGs) to Vedomosti: one was informed about it by the MDG staff, the other is aware of the upcoming deal from FSB officers, the third Citadel managers knew that the company is in the final stage buying a stake in the MDGs.
MDG creates systems for recording telephone conversations and voice alerts, biometric access systems (including face recognition), speech to text conversion programs, speech synthesizers, and military products. Their customers on the company's website are state agencies, law enforcement agencies and security services, financial organizations and retailers. The football club "Zenith" for protection from hooligans equipped the home stadium with a biometric access control system. The company's top manager in the biometric market estimates the cost of the MDGs at 1.5-2 billion rubles.
Almost 100% of the MDGs are indirectly controlled by Gazprombank, according to SPARK-Interfax.
The Citadel is known for developing the law of Yarovaya. The company owns the developer of operational search systems (SORM) "MFI-soft" and - in an alliance with "Rostekh" and the National Computer Corporation, the manufacturer of the data storage system "Kupol".
Among those who bought the "Dome" for the sake of fulfilling Yarovoy's law is Alisher Usmanov's Megafon. He has a joint business with Citadel owner Anton Cherepnnikov: Usmanov invested $ 100 million in Cherepunnikov-based cybersport company Virtus.pro.
A stake in the MDGs can be purchased either by Cherepennikov himself, or by Citadel or USM structures, Vedomosti's interlocutor, who is familiar with Citadel's managers, supposes. The share that Citadel can receive in the MDGs is not known to him, but he notes that in M & A transactions, as a rule, she does not buy a package that is less than the control.
MDG, as a narrowly specialized and experienced team, recognizing the voice, can also store it, analyze and process it, lists the general director of "Norsi-trans" (competitor of "Citadel" in the market of SORM) Sergei Ovchinnikov. The Citadel divisions historically focused little on the work with voice traffic, although it is necessary to develop SORM solutions: a deal with the MDG would bring Citadel the necessary technologies and additional contracts in related information security markets, he supposes.
270 million rubles.
such a grant for the creation of technology for the analysis of the sound environment with the help of artificial intelligence was received in 2017 by a subsidiary "MDG-innovation" from the "National Technological Initiative". The new technology (called "Neurohoo") should teach the devices to hear what is happening around, with uncharacteristic noises to send notifications or to control video cameras, and to recognize the sex and age of people by voice, promised "MDG Innovations"
Voice traffic for operators is advantageous not just to store, but also immediately indexed for later retrieval - for this you can embed MDG technology in SORM Citadel, argues the chief analyst of the Russian Association of Electronic Communications Karen Ghazaryan. This solution is especially appealing for servicing fixed communication operators: they have difficulties in processing and storing voice traffic. But for the MDGs, atypical work with SORM, and until there is no certainty that its technology will be built into the systems for the enforcement of the law of Yarovoy, warns Ovchinnikov.
"Citadel" does not intend to use MDG technologies in SORM, including for the implementation of the law of Yarovoy, knows the familiar managers of Citadel, there is no need. She is more interested in biometric technologies, speech synthesis, processing and analysis of sound and video - now this is increasingly used in the corporate environment, he argues.
Recently, the market of intelligent recognition systems has noticeably brightened up. In November 2017, Sberbank acquired 25.07% of VisionLabs, which creates software and cloud services for the recognition and analysis of individuals. A year earlier, VisionLabs had attracted investments from Sistema. In early 2018, the shareholders of another Russian developer of face recognition technology - NtechLab became Ruben Vardanyan's fund (25%) and Rostekh's subsidiary RT - business development (12.5%).
The state is obviously interested in providing security at the maximum possible technical level, therefore, as soon as it and the close structures found practical application and, accordingly, proposed large contracts, the big strategic investors interested in them appeared in the biometric market, the director of venture ecosystem development in Skolkovo Ventures Stanislav Kolesnichenko. While we do not have investors who are able to introduce biometrics into global projects like Face ID in Apple, he continues, but in the global market technology is already so widespread that it is difficult to talk about a jump in its value in the near future, and in this situation, permanent government orders can support stability of our biometrics market.
Representatives of the MDGs, Citadels and Gazprombank declined to comment. Usmanov Holding USM does not buy the MDGs, its representative Elena Martynova assured.