Microsoft is reportedly eyeing up an acquisition of artificial intelligence (AI) and speech recognition technology vendor Nuance Communications for about US$16 billion.
According to a report by media outlet Reuters, Microsoft and Nuance Communications are in “advanced talks” about an acquisition deal that would value Nuance at about US$56 per share, with an agreement set to arrive as early as Monday (in the US).
Citing Bloomberg News, which first reported the rumoured deal, Reuters said the acquisition, if it came to fruition, would be Microsoft’s second-largest deal after its US$26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016.
Although the deal could be officially announced as early as this week, according to Bloomberg, sources said talks are ongoing and the discussions could still fall apart.
Based in Burlington, Massachusetts, Nuance Communications makes solutions that understand, analyse and respond to human language.
Drawing upon decades of domain and artificial intelligence expertise, Nuance works with thousands of organisations in a variety of industry verticals, including healthcare, telecommunications, automotive, financial services, retail and more.
The rumoured acquisition talks come as Microsoft works to build out its industry verticals, with the vendor launching three new industry-specific cloud offerings in February: Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing and Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit.
At the time, Microsoft also flagged the first update to its previously announced Cloud for Healthcare offering, and the public preview timing for Microsoft Cloud for Retail, which was introduced in January.
Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, announced last year, provides integrated capabilities that deliver automation and efficiency on high-value workflows, as well as deep data analysis functionality for both structured and unstructured data.
The first update to this offering was planned to be available from April this year and includes new features for virtual health, remote patient monitoring, care coordination and patient self-service, and support for eight new languages.
At the same time, Microsoft Cloud for Retail, announced earlier this year, is designed to connect the end-to-end shopper journey, using data insights to help employees improve operations, sales and customer service.
Broadly, Microsoft’s industry-specific cloud efforts bring together common data models, cross cloud connectors, workflows, application programming interfaces (APIs) and industry-specific components and standards, and pairs them with the breadth of its cloud services, including Microsoft 365 and Teams, Azure, Microsoft Power Platform, Dynamics 365 and associated security solutions.
Through its range of industry-specific clouds, Microsoft aims to — in its own words — empower businesses in their respective industry verticals to deliver value faster, adapt quickly to changing conditions and build for the future, with security at the core.