Microsoft's $16 billion Nuance bid gets EU antitrust approval

A Microsoft logo is seen in Los Angeles, California U.S. November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson//File Photo

BRUSSELS, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The European Commission on Tuesday granted Microsoft (MSFT.O) unconditional antitrust approval for its $16 billion bid for artificial intelligence and speech technology company Nuance Communications (NUAN.O).

The deal is Microsoft's second biggest after its $26.2 billion LinkedIn purchase in 2016, and would boost its presence in cloud services for healthcare.

It has already regulatory approval in the United States and Australia, and Reuters reported earlier this month it was set to receive EU approval. read more

The Commission said its investigation into the deal had concluded that it would not significantly reduce competition in markets for transcription software, cloud services, enterprise communication services, PC operating systems and other products.

"The proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns on any of the markets examined in the European Economic Area," the Commission said.

U.S.-based Nuance serves 77% of U.S. hospitals and helped launch Apple's (AAPL.O) Siri virtual assistant.

The Commission said it had examined issues including the overlap between Microsoft and Nuance's transcription software activities, and found that they offered "very different products" that, when combined, would continue to face strong competition from other players.

Tech companies have ramped up acquisitions of AI-focused firms as more integrate this technology into their products and services.

Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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