EU Approves Microsoft’s $16 Billion Nuance Acquisition

Six months later European regulators agree with their American counterparts and give Microsoft antitrust approval to acquire Nuance

Europe’s competition watchdog, the European Commission, has concluded its deeper look at Microsoft’s acquisition of Nuance Communications.

Nuance Communications is an artificial intelligence and speech recognition company, that Redmond said it was acquiring for $16 billion (£11.3bn) back in April this year.

This was Microsoft’s second-largest acquisition to date, following its $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn in 2016.


EU blessing

Earlier this month it was reported that the European Commission was taking a deeper look into Microsoft’s acquisition of Nuance Communications.

The report came after other large tech companies, notably Apple, Amazon, Facebook/Meta and Google, have come under increasing pressure from regulators and lawmakers over their unconstrained growth, including via acquisitions.

Microsoft had so far avoided the regulatory attention given to those other companies, which are all facing antitrust lawsuits and investigations over numerous issues.

And that run seemed to have continued after it was reported last week that the European Union was on the verge of giving its unconditional approval to the deal.

Now Reuters has reported that the European Commission has granted Microsoft its unconditional antitrust approval for the deal.

The Commission said its investigation into the deal had concluded that it would not significantly reduce competition in markets for transcription software, cloud services, enterprise communication services, PC operating systems and other products.

“The proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns on any of the markets examined in the European Economic Area,” the Commission reportedly said.

The Commission said it had examined issues including the overlap between Microsoft and Nuance’s transcription software activities, and found that they offered “very different products” that, when combined, would continue to face strong competition from other players.

The EC decision comes after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and US DoJ officially rubber stamped the deal in June this year.

The Australian Competition Commission in October also said it would not contest the deal. The last remaining hurdle  could be the UK’s CMA.

Healthcare focus

Nuance Communications was founded in 1992 and was headquartered in Burlington, Massachusetts.

It is perhaps best known for having helped develop Apple’s Siri.

However, it has also has built up a strong presence in the healthcare industry, with its software used by 77 percent of US hospitals.

Essentially Nuance makes a number of popular clinical speech-recognition tools used by doctors and radiologists to automate the process of generating clinical documentation.

Indeed, in the US, more than half of physicians and 75 percent of radiologists use its tools.

Nuance also provides technology for interactive voice-response systems, virtual assistants and digital and biometric systems to multiple industries.

For Microsoft the deal makes sense, as it will bolster Redmond’s presence in the healthcare market, and provide it with new voice and medical data to train artificial intelligence offerings in health, speech and biometric security.