Two Russian top managers muddy waters announcing new holding company

Two Russian top managers - Dmitry Samokhin (formerly CEO of  NTV-plus, Russia's first satellite TV operator) and former employee of a number of Russian telecom companies Anatoly Smorgonsky - announced the consolidation of their assets into the new holding company Ambite. "The company will consist of A1 Systems group which is the largest entity in the holding, the National Center of the Internet of Things (NCIoT), Revolta Engineering and several other companies. A part of the assets will be restructured as a result of the merger," ComNews reports.

Mr. Samokhin holds 33 percent at Ambite, whereas Smorgonsky has 0,5 percent more. External investors will also be part of the project. "We also consider a number of companies and startups on the B2B market, and we are ready to invest in them. There are negotiations underway with minority stakeholders, and we are planning to structure those deals within a year. We target the control stock, but IT business is mostly about people in the first place, so we are not aiming to bring the share to the level of 100 percent," the press service of Ambite said in a statement.    

According to Smorgonsky, there are negotiations underway to approach banks and telecom companies on developing markets of  Africa, Pakistan, Vietnam, whereas the profit of the holding from international business for the upcoming three years is estimated to be at around 150-200 million dollars, ComputerWorld writes.

Mr. Samokhin said the he and partners are planning to set up the holding within one year. To improve corporate management, the board of directors with Smorgonsky at the head is to be established. The board will include one representative of each shareholder and two independent directors.

"We have several joint projects with Dmitry Samokhin. We understand that the projects that our companies develop can supplement each other very well making innovative decisions possible. The market suggests the need to unite into one holding structure. On the one hand, we will be able to introduce new products to the market faster. On the other hand, we will be able to reduce costs by excluding duplicate functions and promotion costs," Smorgonsky said explaining the point of the project.  

Against the background of the talks about millions of profit and grandiose projects, the website of the new holding looks awkward, especially for an IT project. As of November 20, it carries the headline which says: "Dmitry Samokhin and Anatoly Smorgonsky join assets for new Ambite holding," while lower parts of the website are left blank.

IT experts are skeptic about the future of Ambite Rco holding company. "It's decisions in the field of mobile communication look outdated because they are based on the use of SIM cards. Revolt Engineering has not had any conspicuous projects yet, but the company counts on the support from the Ministry for Industry and Trade in the field of the industrial Internet of things. For the time being, it is too adventurous to count on the Russian, let alone the global expansion," the Kommersant (a Russian business newspaper) wrote.

The fact of Smorgonsky's participation in the project raises apprehensions as well. He has had many business initiatives lately and all of them have left a bad taste on the mouth.

In 2008-2013, Smorgonsky worked as marketing director of Beeline telecommunications company (Vympelcom) for the Moscow region. It is worthy of note that the position of the executive vice president of Vympelcom was taken by a close friend of Smorgonsky's wife, Natalia Chumachenko. In 2012, she changed her job, and Smorgonsky left six months later. Since then, as website said citing people close to the businessman, he had never stayed anywhere for long.

Facts speak for themselves. "General Director of Skartel mobile operator (under brandname Yota) Anatoly Smorgonsky left his post a year after his appointment," the authoritative Vedomosti newspaper wrote in 2015. Officially,  top manager's expired  contract was not prolonged. "The person close to Skartel managers says that shareholders were not satisfied with Smorgonsky's work on the post. He was supposed to make Skartel a fourth mobile operator, but failed to do it," the newspaper wrote. Afterwards, Anatoly Smorgonsky left Tele2 mobile operator having worked there for a bit more than three years, where he was responsible for MVNO projects, the Vedomosti wrote a year later, noting that the top manager left his job by mutual consent between the parties.

Reportedly, Smorgonsky was involved into criminal schemes to sell "vanity" telephone  numbers and place overpriced ad graffiti. The so-called museum case gained most attention: the case was about the disappearance of museum cards (museum e-passes) from Moscow Pass company. Bay T company suggested creating innovative pass cards for visitors enabling tourists to enter several museums, picture galleries and exhibition halls at once. Smorgonsky evinced great interest in the project. "He even wanted to buy Moscow Pass from Bay T to independently sell tourist cards and smart cards with the help of this project through his own company. However, Bay T turned down  the offer," Konkrento publication wrote. A thousand of ready to go smart cards worth three million rubles vanished from the warehouse. The museums and galleries that were involved in the project received fake notifications saying that the rights of Moscow Pass had been transferred to another company - Vector. The latter was soon renamed into CityPass and arranged a presentation of its own tourist passes at the world-known Tretyakov Gallery.
Bay T representatives did not find any differences between the missing cards and the cards from CityPass. The latter soon delivered the business to its successor - legal entity GetPass, which Smorgonsky chaired.

It is worthy of note that publications about those cases gradually disappear from the Internet. For example, the article titled "New details about Museum Case and Anatoly Smorgonsky," which was published on pages of Metro newspaper, was subsequently removed, although one can still read it in the official blog.

Two other stories where the name of Anatoly Smorgonsky appears are related to the collapse of StarNet startup, which was going to set up a network to transmit telemetry information on the basis of LoRaWAN protocol, but the company turned out to be affiliated with an investor company; and the trial because of the patent of Sifox company which was transferred to Big Data Technology in accordance with a supposedly fake signature contract. The companies that the media believe are related to Smorgonsky stood to gain from those affairs, although there is no evidence to prove it.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to follow the fate of Ambite IT holding. The holding eyes major businesses on the international market and large contracts with Russian companies, such as the Fund for the Development if Internet Initiatives. Most likely, it goes about impressive amounts of money, and we will definitely learn something new about both the holding and Mr. Smorgonsky.


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