According to three people familiar with the situation, Microsoft Corp. is on track to receive unconditional EU antitrust approval for its $16 billion acquisition for artificial intelligence and speech technology business Nuance Communications Inc.
The deal, Microsoft’s second largest after its $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016, comes amid increased regulatory scrutiny of “killer acquisitions,” in which computer giants shut down embryonic start-ups and potential competitors after buying them.
Microsoft announced the purchase in April, which will expand the company’s cloud capabilities for healthcare customers, a market where demand has increased as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic. Nuance, which is known for pioneering voice technology and assisting in the introduction of Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) virtual assistant, Siri, serves 77 percent of hospitals in the United States.
According to the sources, the US software giant is in talks with the British antitrust body ahead of making a request for approval of the transaction. The European Commission, which is expected to make a decision on the agreement by December 21, as well as Microsoft, declined to comment.
According to the sources, the corporation is also in exploratory talks with the UK antitrust watchdog CMA ahead of submitting a formal request for approval of the acquisition. The CMA, according to a spokeswoman, does not comment on which instances it will investigate in the future. The Microsoft transaction isn’t listed on its website as one it’s considering.
The agreement has already been approved by regulators in the United States and Australia, with no conditions attached. To keep ahead of the competition and as more companies integrate AI into their products and services, IT companies have increased their acquisitions of AI-focused companies in recent months.