Nuance leaps 18% on Microsoft’s deal to acquire the AI speech-technology software maker

Satya Nadella

  • Nuance Communications shares shot up 18% on Monday on a deal by Microsoft to buy the company in a $19.7 billion deal.
  • Microsoft plans to buy the speech-recognition software maker for $56 a share and the deal will include Nuance’s net debt.
  • Microsoft shares were slightly higher as the new trading week got underway.
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Nuance Communications shares surged 18% during Monday’s session following a deal under which Microsoft will purchase the AI speech-recognition software maker for $19.7 billion in cash, with the price to include Nuance’s net debt.

Microsoft, in a joint statement, said it will buy Nuance for $56 a share, which is a 23% premium to Nuance’s closing price on Friday at $45.58. Bloomberg reported late Sunday that the two companies were in talks, citing sources who asked not to be identified. An agreement with Nuance would be Microsoft’s largest since it purchased professional networking site LinkedIn in 2016.

Nuance climbed 18% to $53.93 as regular-session trading got underway. The stock during pre-market trade climbed by as much as 31%. Meanwhile, Microsoft shares edged up 0.1% to $255.97 as Wall Street’s new trading week kicked off.

Nuance and Microsoft have been working together since 2019, focusing on Nuance’s products that allow clinicians to capture patient discussions and integrate them into electronic health records. Microsoft said the deal will double its total addressable market in the healthcare provider space to nearly $500 billion.

“AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in the statement.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the calendar year 2021 and has been unanimously approved by the boards of both Nuance and Microsoft. Nuance’s CEO Mark Benjamin will remain in his role.

“For Nadella & Co., this is the right acquisition at the right time with Microsoft doubling down on its healthcare initiatives over the coming years,” said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives in a Monday note in which he called the Nuance deal a “strategic no brainer” for Microsoft. Wedbush lowered its 12-month price target on Nuance to $56 from $65 to reflect the deal but maintained its outperform rating.

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Ohio lawmaker who questioned the COVID-19 hygiene of Black Americans now leads legislative health committee

Stephen Huffman
State Sen. Stephen Huffman (R-Ohio).

An Ohio GOP lawmaker and doctor who last year described Black Americans as “colored” in questioning their hygiene as it relates to contracting COVID-19 will now lead the state Senate Health Committee, according to the Associated Press.

This past June, state Sen. Stephen Huffman, an emergency room doctor, openly questioned the coronavirus prevention methods of Black Americans while speaking with Angela Dawson, a Black woman and the executive director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health.

“I understand African Americans have higher instances of chronic conditions that makes them more susceptible to death from COVID,” Huffman said. “But why does that make them more susceptible just to get COVID?”

He added: “Could it just be that African Americans – or the colored population – do not wash their hands as well as other groups? Or wear masks? Or do not socially distance themselves? Could that just be the explanation of why there’s a higher incidence?”

The comments fueled an uproar, with Huffman being fired from his emergency room position, along with the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) calling for him to resign and Black lawmakers criticizing his statements.

Democratic Rep. Stephanie Howse of Cleveland, who is Black, said at the time that Huffman’s comments stunt any hope for changing the racial climate.

“When we talk about the internalized racism that is deeply ingrained in our institutions and the obstacles black Americans face in ever achieving meaningful change, this is exactly what we are talking about,” she said shortly after the incident. “The fact that a well-educated legislator, a vice chair of the Health Committee and a practicing medical doctor, would, in a public setting, nonchalantly use such antiquated terminology, paired with a hurtful, racist stereotype, all in one breath reflects how unconscious this problem of racism is for too many.”

Read more: Trump tested the Constitution and shredded traditions. Biden and the Democrats have big plans of their own about what to do next.

Huffman took to Facebook shortly after the incident to apologize for his comments.

“I had absolutely no malicious intent, but I recognize that my choice of words was unacceptable and hurtful,” he wrote. “I apologize, and I make no excuses. Those who know me will tell you that I have nothing but love and respect for all people, and I would never intentionally disrespect or denigrate anyone for any reason.”

Huffman was tapped to lead the health committee by his cousin, GOP Senate President Matt Huffman.

John Fortney, a spokesman for the Senate president, released a statement defending Huffman’s chairmanship.

“Senator Huffman … has a long record of providing health care to minority neighborhoods and has joined multiple mission trips at his own expense to treat those from disadvantaged countries,” he said. “He apologized months ago for asking a clumsy and awkwardly worded question. Sincere apologies deserve sincere forgiveness, and not the perpetual politically weaponized judgment of the cancel culture.”

After the announcement, Huffman said that he is “proud” to chair the committee and tried once again to make amends for his comments.

“In our state’s effort to help understand why COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting African Americans, more than seven months ago I asked an awkwardly worded question that unfortunately hurt many people,” he said. “I immediately apologized and have been working to heal any harm caused.”

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Teladoc drops on report that Amazon is building a business to offer primary care for other companies

FILE PHOTO: Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos laughs as he talks to the media while touring the new Amazon Spheres during the grand opening at Amazon's Seattle headquarters in Seattle, Washington, U.S., January 29, 2018.   REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • Teladoc fell 6% on Wednesday following a Business Insider report that Amazon is quietly building a business to offer primary healthcare services for other large employers.
  • As an extension of Amazon Care, the service would offer in-person and online doctor visits that can be scheduled through a mobile app, according to the report.
  • Shares of health insurance stocks also fell, with UnitedHealth Group and Cigna dropping as much as 2%.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Shares of Teladoc and health insurance providers fell on Tuesday following a report from Business Insider that Amazon is quietly building a healthcare service that will be offered to employee of other large companies.

As an extension of Amazon Care, the service would offer in-person and online doctor visits that can be scheduled through a mobile app, according to the report. The service would bypass health insurance plans and brokers, potentially helping lower the cost of healthcare.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Business Insider reports that Amazon has already pitched the service to Zillow, though its unclear how many other companies were pitched the service offering. 

Zillow confirmed that it was pitched the Amazon Care service but that nothing came of it, according to the report. 

Read more: Amazon is going deeper into the prescription-drug business. Here are the 7 ways the tech giant is taking on healthcare, and why 2 analysts think doctor visits are next.

Amazon’s push into healthcare services has been years in the making, most recently marked by the e-commerce giant’s launch of an online pharmacy. That move sent pharmacy stocks like CVS and Walgreens down substantially.

A similar move played out on Wednesday in shares of Teladoc, which helps facilitate virtual doctor visits for patients via video-calls. Shares of Teladoc fell as much as 6% in Wednesday trades.

Health insurance stocks also fell on Wednesday following the report, with shares of both UnitedHealth Group and Cigna down as much as 2%. Shares of Amazon traded up nearly 1% in Wednesday trades.

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