Microsoft-Nuance buyout deal slowed by regulator; GBG-Acuant completed
In selling and please-let-me-buy news, an ID-verification firm was sold by a U.S. private equity firm to UK-based GB Group, another biometrics and identity verification provider.
On the same day, December 7, Reuters exclusively reported that the European Union’s antitrust unit “is taking a deeper look” at Microsoft’s proposed $16 billion purchase of conversational AI firm Nuance Communications.
Voice recognition is as hot a corner of biometrics as any other, and Nuance has a solid reputation with conversational AI as well as ambient clinical intelligence, or algorithms that comprehend and transcribe unstructured spoken communication.
Nuance executives sell this function into health care, but also into security and enterprise markets.
Microsoft’s buyout was announced in April and has gotten nods from U.S. (in June) and Australian antitrust regulators (in October).
Microsoft and Nuance waited until November to formally request a review by the European Commission.
Executives might have been hoping to build approval momentum or they could have been working through back channels to see if some concerns can be assuaged before the official process began.
Either way, they appear to have been wrong.
The EU has sent a questionnaire to the pair. Reuters, which says it has seen the document, has reported that it covers basic territory: Would Microsoft harm European customers and competitors by favoring Nuance voice biometrics products after the purchase?
The regulator must approve the deal by December 21 or make a bigger deal of the proposal.
Deal managers had said they wanted to close the buyout this year, but, assuming the EU can be placated, it will be finalized next quarter at the earliest.
Acuant-GBG deal completed
It has been a more straight-forward affair for the sale of Acuant by Audax Private Equity (though, obviously, a deal that is magnitudes smaller in all respects).
Acuant sells selfie biometrics, ID verification and know your customer-compliance software and services.
The buyer, GBG, a digital-ID and identity-fraud software maker in London, valued the cash- and debt-free deal at $736 million. Executives said that, after joined, the resulting company will have revenue of £265 million, or US$351 million.