EU asks for input on $16-billion Microsoft-Nuance deal

EU asks for input on $16-billion Microsoft-Nuance deal

EU’s antitrust regulator is taking a deeper look into Microsoft’s $16 billion deal for the acquisition of transcription company Nuance communications. The regulator asked customers and competitors to draft a list of concerns, according to a questionnaire seen by Reuters.

The initiative by the regulator was previously unreported and the most extensive outreach conducted by an antitrust authority since the companies announced the acquisition in April, according to someone familiar with the process.

Microsoft declined to give Reuters a comment and Nuance sent no response to a request for comment.

The US and Australian regulators did not contest the deal

The US Department of Justice conducted a minimal review in June and the Australian Competition Commission did the same in October and said they would not contest the deal. The companies filed for approval from the European Commission’s competition bureau last month.

The EU regulator has until the 21st of this month to clear the deal or open a bigger investigation.

The companies had expected to close the deal by the end of this year but announced in November that the timeline could be extended to sometime early next year.

A nuanced matter

The questionnaire seeks to find out if Microsoft and Nuance are competitors and if the acquisition would affect rivals and clients, including whether Microsoft could favor its new acquisition over similar competing services.

Nuance sells transcription technology popular among call centers and doctors with a keen need to automate note-taking.

Microsoft is interested in Nuance, which serves a lot of people, because of its contracts which allow it to use customer data and texts to improve the transcription technology. Big companies (Amazon, Google, Microsoft) have a harder time getting that kind of invasive and creepy access, which could partly explain why Microsoft wants Nuance.