Microsoft’s takeover of the voice recognition company under surveillance
Microsoft’s $ 19.7 billion (£ 14.5 billion) acquisition of an artificial intelligence company used by the NHS is under review by the competition regulator.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) would have asked questions to Microsoft and questioned customers and rivals about its acquisition of Nuance Communications.
Microsoft has not yet filed a file with the regulator, which would have 40 working days to consider launching an in-depth investigation.
The deal has been cleared by US and Australian officials while the European Commission has heard from rivals as well – it is expected to give the green light in the coming days.
Nuance is best known for providing the original voice recognition system behind Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant.
Its transcription software is widely used in the NHS to reduce note taking and has become more crucial during the pandemic by allowing doctors to keep their protective gear on.
Its software also powers automated systems such as robots used to answer questions about coronavirus vaccines.
Microsoft announced in April a $ 16 billion deal to buy Nuance, one of its biggest deals, to help it get into healthcare. He expected to close the deal by the end of the year, but has since said he could push until 2022.
One of the concerns the CMA reportedly raised is whether purchasing Nuance would prevent Microsoft from launching its own competing product.
The tech giant has a special version of its 365 healthcare software subscription service, which it could sell alongside technology from Nuance. Rivals have complained about the “bundling” of several services, saying it makes competition more difficult.
The CMA and Microsoft both declined to comment.