Microsoft about to complete $16bn acquisition of speech recognition company Nuance

The purchase will allow Microsoft to become better entrenched in health care through Nuance's medical dictation and transcription tools

Microsoft's acquisition of Nuance is its largest after its $26bn purchase of career networking service LinkedIn in 2016. AFP
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Microsoft has closed on its approximately $16 billion acquisition of speech recognition company Nuance.

The deal, which was announced last year, helps Washington-based Microsoft become better entrenched in hospitals and the health care industry through Nuance's widely-used medical dictation and transcription tools. The acquisition is Microsoft's largest yet after its $26bn purchase of career networking service LinkedIn in 2016.

Nuance’s artificial intelligence technology helped power Apple’s Siri digital voice assistant upon its release on iPhones more than a decade ago. The Burlington, Massachusetts-based company has since shifted focus to physicians and other tailored uses of its Dragon line of voice recognition tools.

Microsoft announced it was buying the company in April 2021 but faced a setback in December when British regulators said they were opening an investigation into whether it could result in a “substantial lessening of competition” in the UK market. The British agency announced it cleared that deal on Wednesday.

The merger was separately cleared later in December by regulators in the European Union, which Britain left in 2020. The EU’s highest antitrust authority said Microsoft and Nuance “offer very different products” and would continue to face strong competition in their respective markets.

Microsoft continued to shop this year, in January announcing that it would spend nearly $70bn to acquire video game maker Activision Blizzard.

Mark Benjamin will continue to serve as chief executive of Nuance and report to Scott Guthrie, the head of Microsoft's cloud computing and artificial intelligence division.

Shares of Microsoft declined slightly amid a broader market sell-off on Friday.

Updated: March 05, 2022, 3:42 PM