Microsoft Corp. has agreed to acquire speech-recognition firm Nuance Communications Inc. for $19.7 billion, adding to a series of big deals the company has struck to offer an expanded range of software tools to its customers.
The two companies on Monday said Microsoft agreed to pay $56 per Nuance share in the all-cash deal, a 23% premium over Friday’s closing price. The deal value includes Nuance debt, the companies said.
The acquisition is Microsoft’s second largest under Chief Executive Satya Nadella after the company spent about $26 billion for 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 Siri voice assistant before the Cupertino, Calif-based company switched to an in-house version. Nuance has explored a possible sale as far back as 2014, when Samsung Electronics Co. and private-equity firms were seen as the most likely buyers.
Voice assistants have enjoyed growing adoption as consumers have embraced smart devices around their home. Amazon.com Inc. also helped popularize its Alexa voice assistant through its Echo smart speaker and Alphabet Inc.’s Google offered equipment with its version of a virtual helper, called Google Assistant.