UK antitrust watchdog investigates Microsoft Nuance deal

LONDON (AP), -- The latest sign that they are tightening their scrutiny of large technology deals is the opening of an investigation by British antitrust regulators into Microsoft's acquisition of Nuance, a speech recognition company for $16 billion.

UK antitrust watchdog investigates Microsoft Nuance deal

Monday's brief statement by the Competition and Markets Authority stated that it is looking into the purchase due to concerns that it could lead to a "substantial decrease in competition" on the U.K. markets.

Microsoft Corp., based in Redmond Washington, declined to comment. In April, the company announced that it would be buying Nuance Communications Inc. (a pioneer in voice-based AI technology). Nuance was instrumental in Apple's digital assistant Siri, but the company later switched to health care by focusing on medical dictation tools and transcription.

This transaction was expected to close in this year. It follows the $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft in 2016. Nuance, a Massachusetts-based company, employs approximately 7,100 people, with more than half being from outside the U.S.

British regulators are increasing their scrutiny of tech-related acquisitions. The competition authority in Britain ordered Facebook last month to cancel its Giphy purchase and sell the GIF-sharing platform. It found that the deal hindered competition for animated images, and it hurt social media users as well as advertisers.

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