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February 27, 2009

Nuance buys Zi in $35m deal

Acquires text input software for mobiles

By CBR Staff Writer

Voice recognition company Nuance Communications Inc has finally won over the management of Zi Corp who have agreed to a cash and stock deal worth around $35 million.

Nuance has been trying to buy its Calgary, Canada-based rival for more than six months, and back in July the company had offered $47.5 million for the developer of text input technologies for mobiles.

The declining market means the final value still represents a 73% premium on the closing price of Zi’s stock on Wednesday.

In a statement, Nuance said that Zi’s mobile search and text input systems complement its own portfolio and would help it better address the market need for text input technology, especially in Asia-Pacific.

“The two companies share a commitment to advance a portfolio of intelligent input and search capabilities on mobile devices in more than 80 languages and dialects.”

Zi’s predictive text input systems are usually embedded on mobiles, but the company also has developed blended handwriting recognition and predictive text pen-based systems. 

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Its Decuma system can be trained to recognise a user’s preferred vocabulary, and will also maintain shortcut symbols that abbreviate commonly-used phrases or an email address.

In January Nuance announced that it would sell $175m worth of stock to private equity investor Warburg Pincus to help fund its mergers and acquisition plans.

The company is best known for its Dragon line of speech recognition software, but it also produces systems that can convert text into good quality speech, as well as developing call routing systems for use in automated contact centres.

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