Microsoft is to buy the artificial intelligence and speech technology firm Nuance Communications for about $16bn (£12bn), as it builds up its cloud-computing operation for healthcare and business customers.
Nuance, known for pioneering speech technology and helping to launch Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, operates in 28 countries and reported revenues of $1.5bn in its last full financial year.
The Massachusetts-based company said it served 77% of US hospitals, providing services including clinical speech recognition, medical transcription and medical imaging.
The deal comes after the companies went into partnership in 2019 to automate clinical administrative work such as documentation.
Microsoft’s offer of $56 a share represents a premium of 22.86% on Nuance’s most recent closing price. Nuance shares were up 16.8% at $53.24 around midday in New York on Monday.
The deal follows Microsoft’s recent $7.5bn acquisition of the gaming company ZeniMax Media, and reports that it was in talks to buy the messaging platform Discord, which also allows live audio events.
A deal for Nuance would be Microsoft’s second-biggest, after its $26.2bn acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016.