ScanSoft acquires speech for $35.4 million

ScanSoft is to acquire the Speech Processing Telephony and Voice Control business units of Royal Philips Electronics together with related intellectual property.

ScanSoft and Royal Philips Electronics have signed a definitive agreement whereby ScanSoft will acquire the Philips Speech Processing Telephony and Voice Control business units, and related intellectual property.

Consideration for the transaction is $35.4 million, comprising $3.0 million in cash, a $4.9 million 5% interest note due December 31, 2003 and a $27.5 million three-year, zero-interest convertible debenture, convertible into common shares of ScanSoft at $6.00 per share. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors for both companies, and is expected to close during the first quarter of 2003.

An ongoing partnership between Philips and ScanSoft is an integral component of the transaction. This partnership includes continued support and collaboration with Phillips Research in speech technology and innovations, joint assertion of acquired patent rights and designation of ScanSoft as the preferred supplier of embedded speech capabilities for Philips consumer electronics.

The Philips Speech Processing Telephony business allows enterprise customers, telephony vendors and carriers to ‘speech-enable’ a range of services, including directory assistance, interactive voice response and voice portal applications. Philips automatic speech recognition (ASR) engine SpeechPearl supports more than 40 languages and can process a vocabulary of more than one million words, making it suited for telephony applications that target global and broad regional markets. Philips has also developed VoiceRequest, an enterprise auto-attendant solution, and automated directory assistance implementations that have been deployed by Telia in Sweden, the Japan Multimedia Service and Telefónica de Argentina, among others.

The Philips Speech Processing Voice Control business has developed SpeechWave and VoCon speech recognition engines that are suited for embedded applications including voice-control of climate and entertainment features within cars. These solutions are also used within navigation systems and to enable automated voice dialing within mobile phones, including those from Philips.