Microsoft Corp. has agreed to buy artificial intelligence company Nuance Communications Inc. for $16 billion, extending chief executive Satya Nadella’s run of big acquisitions to accelerate growth in everything from healthcare to videogaming.
Microsoft said Monday it would pay $56 per Nuance share, a 23% premium over Friday’s closing price, in a bet on the growing demand for digital tools within healthcare.
The all-cash deal is Microsoft’s second largest acquisition under Mr. Nadella. The company in 2016 spent about $26 billion for professional network LinkedIn Corp.
Mr. Nadella’s deal making has taken off since that landmark purchase. Microsoft has undertaken more than 100 acquisitions in the past four years, according to data provider Dealogic, committing more than $26 billion not including the Nuance deal.
Last year, Mr. Nadella tried to acquire parts of short-video app TikTok, before talks fell apart. Soon after, Microsoft struck a $7.5 billion deal for videogame company ZeniMax, the maker of the popular Doom franchise.
Microsoft this year has held talks to acquire messaging platform Discord Inc. for $10 billion or more, The Wall Street Journal reported last month.
“Over the past seven years, we’ve taken a consistent approach to mergers and acquisitions of all sizes,” Microsoft finance chief Amy Hood said on an investor call Monday.
Driving the deals, she said, is Microsoft’s desire to expand into high-growth markets.
That pursuit comes as Big Tech rivals of Microsoft, notably Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, may be distracted by antitrust probes that potentially could hobble their ability to strike deals.
Google and Facebook have done blockbuster acquisitions in the past.
Google bought YouTube and its large audience in 2006 and Facebook pocketed Instagram in 2012. While the companies defend their business practices, U.S. regulators now question whether the deals have given them too much power.
Microsoft may be motivated to strike now in case the regulatory environment for deal making toughens, said Herb Hovenkamp, an antitrust professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar this year proposed broad changes to