According to a survey questionnaire last month, the EU’s antitrust regulators are investigating in depth the US$16 billion (approximately Rs 1,205,250 crore) transaction between Microsoft and Nuance Communications, a transcription technology company, and requires customers and competitors to develop a list of concerns.

According to people familiar with the matter, the previously unreported outreach activities are the most extensive outreach activities conducted by antitrust agencies since the two companies announced the acquisition in April.

Microsoft declined to comment, and Nuance did not respond to a request for comment.

After minimal scrutiny, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Australian Competition Commission said in October that they would not object to the transaction. The two companies applied to the European Commission’s Competition Bureau for approval last month, and regulators must approve the transaction or launch a larger investigation before December 21.

The two companies originally expected to complete the transaction before the end of this year, but said last month that the time may be postponed to early next year.

The questionnaire asked whether Microsoft and Nuance are competitors and whether the cooperation will affect customers and competitors, including whether Microsoft can support Nuance instead of competing services.

Nuance sells transcription technology, which is popular among doctors and call centers who want to take notes automatically. Analysts believe that this transaction consolidates Microsoft’s position in the healthcare market and brings new voice and medical data to it to train artificial products in health, voice and biometric security.

Like other large technology companies, Microsoft has been developing its businesses through acquisitions for many years, such as advertising and video games. But in the past decade, Microsoft has avoided the goals of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon that have recently plagued its rival Alphabet, all of which have faced many problematic antitrust lawsuits and investigations.

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Steven Webb, a professor at the intersection of research technology and healthcare at the University of California, Berkeley, said that potential concerns about the pending deal may include Microsoft’s bundling of its Office suite, forcing Nuance customers to use it.

Nuance has stated that it provides services to 77% of hospitals in the United States.

According to former CEO Paul Ritchie and another former employee, a key to its success is to ensure that transactions with customers can use their data to advance its voice recognition system.

For example, Reuters this year obtained a Nuance contract with University Medical Center through a public record request, which read: “Customers shall Nuance with access to voice and text data…and grant Nuance permanent , Royalty-free licenses to copy, use, and analyze such data for speech recognition research.”

Large cloud providers such as Amazon and Microsoft generally cannot have unlimited access to customer data for research and development. But the former employee said that access to these relationships and data explained Microsoft’s interest in Nuance.

Other health transcription technology providers include 3M and Philips.

© Thomson Reuters