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SYSTRAN International takes on Google Translate

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Published : 2014-05-27 21:11
Updated : 2014-05-27 21:11

CSLi, South Korea’s multilingual translation engine, announced Tuesday that it has acquired SYSTRAN, a France-based machine translation tech company.

Rechristening itself SYSTRAN International, the tech firm said the acquisition was part of efforts to boost its competitive edge over IT giants such as Google and Microsoft.

“We took over the French firm in a bid to beat the global No. 1 Google’s translation service,” said Kim Dong-pil, vice president of SYSTRAN International, at a press conference in Seoul.
Dimitris Sabatakakis (left), former SYSTRAN chairman, and Park Ki-hyun, CEO of SYSTRAN International, shake hands ahead of a press conference to announce CSLi’s acquisition of SYSTRAN in Seoul on Tuesday. (SYSTRAN International)

The French company decided to accept the Korean tech firm’s offer after turning down acquisition offers from U.S. defense companies as it saw more growth opportunities in Asia, especially in the business-to-business sector.

“Unlike rival companies such as Google or Microsoft, we have competitiveness in the B2B market, providing our services to corporate clients such as Adobe and Symantec,” said Dimitris Sabatakakis, a former chairman and CEO of SYSTRAN.

CSLi is the sole provider of translation solutions to Samsung Electronics’ flagship Galaxy smartphones.

It has provided its S-Translator for the Galaxy S4, and translation solutions for the Galaxy S5’s mobile messaging service Chat-On.

SYSTRAN, which was founded in 1968, has offered translations in 89 languages to corporations and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense.

The 55 billion won ($54 million) deal, backed by Korean financial investors including STIC Investments, Korea Investment Partners and Softbank Ventures, will allow SYSTRAN International to provide translation services in 100 languages.

It is expected to post combined sales of 230 billion won in 2018, from an estimated 33 billion won in 2013.

Kim noted that CSLi became an active buyer rather than a seller after Google approached the company for a possible sale.

“Google visited us five years ago to propose an acquisition, but we declined (in order) to protect our (homegrown) technology,” Kim said.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)

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