Microsoft acquires Nuance to strengthen cloud strategy for healthcare

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Microsoft  and Nuance Communications have announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire Nuance  in an all-cash transaction valued at $19.7 billion, inclusive of Nuance’s net debt. Nuance is a trusted cloud and AI software leader representing decades of accumulated healthcare and enterprise AI experience. Mark Benjamin will remain CEO of Nuance, reporting to Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud & AI at Microsoft. The transaction is intended to close this calendar year.

Microsoft has accelerated its efforts to provide industry-specific cloud offerings to support customers and partners as they respond to disruption and new opportunities. These efforts include the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, introduced in 2020, which aims to address the comprehensive needs of the rapidly transforming and growing healthcare industry. Today’s acquisition announcement represents the latest step in Microsoft’s industry-specific cloud strategy.

Nuance is a pioneer and a leading provider of conversational AI and cloud-based ambient clinical intelligence for healthcare providers. Nuance’s products include the Dragon Ambient eXperience, Dragon Medical One and PowerScribe One for radiology reporting, all leading clinical speech recognition SaaS offerings built on Microsoft Azure. Nuance’s solutions work seamlessly with core healthcare systems, including longstanding relationships with Electronic Health Records (EHRs), to alleviate the burden of clinical documentation and empower providers to deliver better patient experiences. Nuance solutions are currently used by more than 55% of physicians and 75% of radiologists in the U.S., and used in 77% of U.S. hospitals. Nuance’s Healthcare Cloud revenue experienced 37% year-over-year growth in Nuance’s fiscal year 2020 (ended September 2020).

Microsoft’s acquisition of Nuance builds upon the successful existing partnership between the companies that was announced in 2019. By augmenting the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare with Nuance’s solutions, as well as the benefit of Nuance’s expertise and relationships with EHR systems providers, Microsoft will be better able to empower healthcare providers through the power of ambient clinical intelligence and other Microsoft cloud services. The acquisition will double Microsoft’s total addressable market (TAM) in the healthcare provider space, bringing the company’s TAM in healthcare to nearly $500 billion. Nuance and Microsoft will deepen their existing commitments to the extended partner ecosystem, as well as the highest standards of data privacy, security and compliance.

“Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real-world application of enterprise AI,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application. Together, with our partner ecosystem, we will put advanced AI solutions into the hands of professionals everywhere to drive better decision-making and create more meaningful connections, as we accelerate growth of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare and Nuance.”

Beyond healthcare, Nuance provides AI expertise and customer engagement solutions across Interactive Voice Response (IVR), virtual assistants, and digital and biometric solutions to companies around the world across all industries. This expertise will come together with the breadth and depth of Microsoft’s cloud, including Azure, Teams, and Dynamics 365, to deliver next-generation customer engagement and security solutions.

“Over the past three years, Nuance has streamlined its portfolio to focus on the healthcare and enterprise AI segments, where there has been accelerated demand for advanced conversational AI and ambient solutions,” said Mark Benjamin, CEO, Nuance. “To seize this opportunity, we need the right platform to bring focus and global scale to our customers and partners to enable more personal, affordable and effective connections to people and care. The path forward is clearly with Microsoft — who brings intelligent cloud-based services at scale and who shares our passion for the ways technology can make a difference. At the same time, this combination offers a critical opportunity to deliver meaningful and certain value to our shareholders who have driven and supported us on this journey.”

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both Nuance and Microsoft. The deal is intended to close by the end of this calendar year and is subject to approval by Nuance’s shareholders, the satisfaction of certain regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions.

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