EU ‘Set To Approve’ Microsoft’s $16bn Nuance Buy

The European Union is reportedly on the verge of giving its unconditional approval to Microsoft’s $16 billion (£12bn) takeover bid for artificial intelligence and speech recognition company Nuance Communications.

The move comes after the EU gave more scrutiny to the deal than had other regulators, including circulating questionnaires within the industry last month.

EU regulators are now expected to follow the line of US and Australia, which have already allowed the deal to pass unchallenged, Reuters reported.

The deal is Microsoft’s second-biggest to date, after its $26.2bn acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016.

Artificial intelligence

It comes as other large tech companies, notably Apple, Amazon, Facebook/Meta and Google, have come under pressure from regulators and lawmakers over their unconstrained growth, including through acquisitions.

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

The acquisition is expected to boost Microsoft’s presence in cloud services for healthcare.

Nuance says it provides transcription services for 77 percent of US hospitals. It also helped develop Apple’s Siri voice assistant.

Antitrust pressure

The EU has until 21 December to either pass the deal or launch a more in-depth investigation.

Microsoft has reportedly begun preliminary discussions with the UK’s CMA regulator ahead of a formal request for approval, expected to be filed in January.

The CMA has not to date listed the Nuance deal as one it is investigating.

Last month the EU reportedly asked customers and competitors to list concerns about the deal, including whether Microsoft could favour Nuance over its competitors or force users to purchase Microsoft Office by bundling the two products together.

When the companies announced the deal in April, they said they expected it to close by the end of this year. Last month they said the timeline could slip into early next year.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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