Microsoft is approaching an agreement to buy voice recognition pioneer Nuance Communications, which will value the artificial intelligence company at about $ 16 billion, according to people who were informed about the case.
The deal would be the second largest acquisition ever by Microsoft. This comes after the tech giant had explored a number of takeover options over the past 12 months, including an approach for social media groups TikTok, Pinterest and Discord.
People briefed on the case said a deal could be announced this week as the two sides are close to finalizing the deal. They warned that there was still a small chance that the deal could collapse.
Nuance, based in Burlington, Massachusetts, was one of the early developers of AI speech recognition. Its technology was used to provide voice response in Apple̵
The company’s voice recognition systems are used in a wide range of industries. After years of small acquisitions, however, it has sought to remove its business and focus on a handful of markets to revive growth.
Its revenue fell in each of the last two years, and it has spun or sold a number of business units and rebuilt primarily around cloud-based systems for hospitals and physicians. Healthcare inputs have contributed to a rebound in its shares that more than tripled from a low point in March last year, valuing it at around $ 13 billion.
Microsoft is a leader in AI processing of natural languages that supports such systems. A Nuance acquisition would provide it with a way to sell to a large number of new customers in healthcare, financial services and telecommunications among other industries. However, Nuance earned only $ 29 million. In net income last year after years of losses, and its revenue has fallen more than a quarter since it peaked at over $ 2 billion. In 2018.
Microsoft has been on a buying spree over the last few years as it has used its strong balance sheet to further strengthen its business. It acquired the professional networking site LinkedIn for $ 26 billion. In 2016. Two years later, it bought the code storage group GitHub for $ 7.5 billion, and six months ago, it took over the private gaming company ZeniMax for $ 7.5 billion.
The Seattle-based technology giant, which specializes in cloud computing services used by businesses and governments rather than consumers, has been able to hold the mouse over multiple assets as it has avoided the political setback that has made making it harder for Facebook and Google to make big acquisitions.
Bloomberg first reported that the two companies were in advanced discussions.