Microsoft announced Monday that it would buy voice recognition company Nuance Communications for $ 56 per share, up about 23% from Friday’s closing price. The deal is valued at approximately $ 16 billion and approximately $ 19 billion including debt.
This is the latest sign that Microsoft is looking for more growth through acquisitions. The company is also reportedly in talks to buy the Discord chat app for about $ 10 billion. In addition, last year Microsoft sought to buy TikTok’s U.S. business for around $ 30 billion before the deal derailed.
The Nuance acquisition is Microsoft’s largest acquisition since it bought LinkedIn for more than $ 26 billion in 2016. Last month, Microsoft completed the $ 7.6 billion acquisition of gaming company Zenimax .
Nuance’s shares rose 18% on Monday morning. Microsoft stocks were slightly positive.
Nuance would be focused on that part of Microsoft’s business that serves corporations and governments. Nuance generates revenue by selling tools to recognize and transcribe speech for doctor visits, customer service calls, and voicemails. In its announcement, Microsoft said that Nuance’s technology will be used to extend Microsoft’s cloud healthcare products that were launched last year.
In an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Monday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella highlighted Nuance’s health tools as the main driver behind the acquisition.
“We have seen a massive acceleration in digital transformation … especially in healthcare,” said Nadella. “When you think of the provider market … digital technology will be key.”
Nuance posted net income of $ 7 million on revenue of approximately $ 346 million for the fourth quarter of 2020, with revenue declining 4% on an annualized basis. Nuance was founded in 1992 and employed 7,100 people as of September.
Microsoft said Mark Benjamin, Nuance CEO, will stay with the company and report to Scott Guthrie, who is responsible for Microsoft’s cloud and artificial intelligence businesses.
Nuance has a solid reputation for speech recognition technology and has been an acquisition target for companies like Apple, Microsoft, and others for several years. Microsoft has already built speech recognition into many of its products, but recently shut down some products with its Cortana voice assistant.
– CNBC’s Alex Sherman and Jordan Novet contributed to this report.