British watchdog begins probing Microsoft’s acquisition of AI speech specialist Nuance

British watchdog begins probing Microsoft's acquisition of AI speech specialist Nuance thumbnail

You have until 10 January to make your feelings felt

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is to take a closer look at Microsoft’s buy of talkative AI specialist Nuance.

Today’s announcement follows reports that the purchase, an all-cash transaction valued at $19.7bn when announced in April 2021, was set to get a nod from EU regulators.

To be clear, the CMA is only at the investigation stage and has invited comments from interested parties with a closing date of 10 January 2022. It is pondering if the results of the proposed acquisition will end up substantially hobbling competition and warrant a full blown enquiry.

US regulators have already permitted the deal to go ahead, although a formal decision has yet to be made on this side of the Atlantic.

The acquisition is one of Microsoft’s largest, second to LinkedIn, which was snapped up for $26.2bn in 2016.

The plan is to plug the technology into the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare. Nuance’s tech is focused on healthcare-optimised speech recognition to streamline the production of clinical documentation.

Microsoft and Nuance buddied up in 2019 and, as part of that, Nuance agreed to migrate much of its internal infrastructure and hosted products to Azure.

The acquisition announcement followed a few months later. It was expected to have closed by the end of this calendar year, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

With the CMA leaving the comments box open into January 2022, closure of the deal will roll on for a little longer. ®

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