Microsoft ‘close to’ $16bn deal to buy voice-tech firm Nuance

12 Apr 2021

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The tech giant is said to be in the midst of acquisition talks that could see it buy the long-time player in the voice-technology space.

Microsoft is reportedly close to clinching a deal to acquire voice-tech company Nuance Communications for $16bn.

The potential deal, which could be announced as soon as today (12 April), was reported by multiple outlets over the weekend.

Nuance, a Nasdaq-listed company, develops speech recognition technology that’s used by healthcare clients, government agencies and customer support services.

Founded in 1992, the company has been a long-time player in the field. It reported $346m in revenue last quarter with $7m in profits. Its market cap as of this morning was just under $13bn.

The business is headquartered in Massachusetts but has offices around the world, including a base in Dublin that was opened in 2012.

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Nuance has a particularly strong presence in the healthcare industry, providing its voice technology to doctors and healthcare professionals to take and transcribe notes. Microsoft has developed its own products for voice recognition for various use cases but adding Nuance’s tech to its repertoire would greatly expand on that.

A deal to buy Nuance would also add to Microsoft’s growing list of acquisitions that are fuelling its expansion.

It recently closed its $7.5bn acquisition of ZeniMax, the parent company of gaming outfit Bethesda, and it is reportedly in takeover talks with chat app Discord.

Nuance itself is a frequent buyer as well, with more than 50 acquisitions. In February it acquired Saykara, an AI voice assistant app for doctors.

With a reported $16bn price tag, Nuance would be one of Microsoft’s biggest takeover deals to date, second only to its purchase of LinkedIn for more than $26bn in 2016.

Last year, the company was notably involved in talks to buy the US operations of TikTok, which could have likely marked its biggest deal. But those talks fizzled out as US governmental pressure on TikTok waned following the end of the Trump presidency.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

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