Microsoft is in advanced talks to acquire Nuance Communications, an artificial intelligence firm whose speech recognition tech helped develop Apple’s Siri virtual assistant, for as much as $US16 ($21) billion, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The deal price being negotiated could value Nuance at around $US56 ($73) per share, the source said, a roughly 23% premium compared to the share’s closing price on Friday. They added that an official announcement may come as soon as Monday.
A source that spoke with Bloomberg, which first reported news of a potential deal on Sunday, said that negotiations remain ongoing and cautioned that they could still fall apart.
While not exactly a household name, Nuance’s AI and speech recognition software is used in a range of industries from healthcare to automotive and helped lay the groundwork for the tech powering Apple’s voice assistant.
Neither Microsoft nor Nuance have publically confirmed these talks, so it’s best to take all this with a grain of salt for now. However, the two companies do have a bit of history working together. In 2019, Microsoft announced a collaboration with Nuance to build tech that allows doctors to record conversations with their patients during visits and automatically relay that information into electronic medical records.
“The Microsoft partnership will accelerate our ability to solve for healthcare’s most pressing challenges — together,” said Nuance CEO Mark Benjamin at the time. “The ambient technologies we will jointly deliver can improve productivity and professional satisfaction, while empowering doctors to focus on what they do best: take care of patients.”
Rumour has it Microsoft is on a bit of a spending spree at the moment. It’s also reportedly eyeing the gaming-focused chat platform Discord for more than $US10 ($13) billion just months after it scooped up the video game holding company ZeniMax Media. If this Nuance deal goes through, it would be one of Microsoft’s largest acquisitions to date, second only to its purchase of LinkedIn in 2016 for $US26.2 ($34) billion.