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Microsoft in talks to acquire Siri speech recognition partner Nuance for $16B

Nuance Communications is allegedly in discussions with Microsoft over a potential acquisition of the voice recognition company, one that could value a technology provider behind voice analysis for Apple's Siri at approximately $16 billion.

Discussions between the two companies are ongoing, but could result in an announcement for a deal in the next week, according to people familiar with the talks. The proposed price for Nuance is said to be roughly $56 per share, a 23% premium on Friday's closing price.

The talks, told to Bloomberg by unnamed sources, could have major implications for Apple, due to Nuance's involvement with Siri. Apple used Nuance's voice recognition engine to enable its digital assistant to hear and understand user requests.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on the report, while a spokesperson for Nuance didn't immediately respond to queries.

An acquisition of Nuance would be Microsoft's second-largest purchase. Its largest is the acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016, a deal valued at $24 billion.

If a purchase is confirmed, it is unclear how this would affect Apple and Siri in the immediate future. While Nuance confirmed in 2013 its technology was "the fundamental provider of voice recognition for Apple," it is unknown how the relationship between the two companies over Siri operates in 2021.

An acquisition may even press Apple into investing more into voice recognition research, which could allow Siri to work without any dependence on third-party service providers.

This is not the first time the Burlington-based Nuance considered a sale. In 2014, reports claimed it was in talks with Samsung for a potential acquisition, though the South Korean giant didn't follow through.

In 2013, investors and industry watchers proposed Apple's reliance on Nuance could have been a good reason for it to acquire the company itself. At the time, it was thought Apple had a chance to do so for $7 billion, less than half the current anticipated purchase price.