Microsoft buying Siri’s AI developer firm Nuance in $16 bn deal

Microsoft, on an accelerated growth push, is buying speech recognition company Nuance in a deal worth about USD 16 billion.

Microsoft will pay USD 56 per share in cash. That’s a 23 percent premium to Nuance’s Friday closing price. The companies value the transaction including debt at USD 19.7 billion.

Shares of Burlington, Massachusetts-based Nuance surged more than 17 percent in Monday morning trading.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Nuance comes after the companies formed a partnership in 2019. The Redmond, Washington, company said that the deal will double its total addressable market in the health care provider industry, bringing its total addressable market in health care to nearly USD 500 billion.

Nuance’s products include the Dragon Ambient eXperience, Dragon Medical One, and PowerScribe One for radiology reporting, all clinical speech recognition SaaS offerings built on Microsoft Azure. The company’s products are currently used by more than 55 percent of physicians and 75 percent of radiologists in the US, and by 77 percent of US Hospitals. Its health care cloud revenue experienced 37 percent year-over-year growth in fiscal 2020.

AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.

Aside from health care, Nuance provides AI expertise and customer engagement solutions across interactive voice response, virtual assistants, and digital and biometric solutions to companies in all industries. This will join with Microsoft’s cloud, including Azure, Teams, and Dynamics 365, to deliver next-generation customer engagement and security solutions.

The transaction is Microsoft’s second-largest deal following its USD 26 billion purchase of LinkedIn in 2016. Last September, it bought video game maker ZeniMax for USD 7.5 billion.

This is the right acquisition at the right time with Microsoft doubling down on its health care initiatives over the coming years, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives wrote in a note to clients.
Ives said the transaction fits well into Microsoft’s health care portfolio and comes at a time that hospitals and doctors are embracing next-generation AI capabilities.
Mark Benjamin will continue as Nuance CEO.

The transaction is expected to close this year. It still needs approval from Nuance shareholders.

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