Microsoft Corp. has agreed to acquire voice recognition company Nuance Communications Inc. for $ 16 billion, pushing further into healthcare technology and adding to a series of deals that have expanded the range of software tools it offers to its customers.
The all-cash deal pays $ 56 per Nuance share, a 23% premium over Friday’s closing price. Companies estimate its value, including debt, at $ 19.7 billion.
The acquisition is Microsoft’s second largest under the leadership of Satya Nadella. The company spent around $ 26 billion on professional network LinkedIn Corp. in 2016.
Nuance, based in Burlington, Mass., Was a pioneer in speech recognition and artificial intelligence technology. Its software formed the basis of Apple Inc.’s voice assistant Siri before the introduction of an in-house version. Nuance was exploring a possible sale as early as 2014, when Samsung Electronics Co. and private equity firms were seen as the most likely buyers.
Voice assistants have taken root as consumers embrace smart devices in their homes. Amazon.com Inc. has helped popularize its Alexa voice assistant with its Echo smart speaker, and Alphabet Inc.’s Google has come up with a piece of equipment with its virtual assistance version, called Google Assistant.