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Nuance closes in on Spinvox

£30m bridging loan extended to allow deal

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Spinvox is set to be taken over by a US speech recognition firm days before it is due to repay a £30m bridging loan, The Times reports.

Spinvox hit the skids last summer, when it emerged that its speech to text service had been powered in large part by humans, rather than computers.

In August, one of its backers, John Botts, extended a new loan to the firm through his Tisbury Master Fund. This was due to be paid at the end of this week.

The Times yesterday reported that Massachusetts-based Nuance Communications has made a $150m offer for Spinvox, which the British firm is "close to accepting".

Nuance was first cited as a saviour back in September. Since then, Spinvox has laid off staff at its Marlow HQ.

The deal could be sealed before Christmas.

In the meantime, The Times reports, Botts has rolled over his loan to January to allow the deal to proceed.

With £100m of investors' money reportedly burned through to date, The Times says some backers will see some payback, though many will be left empty-handed.

Co-founder Daniel Doulton is expected to stay with the firm after the deal is concluded. The Times describes his partner Christina Domecq's future as "less clear", and says she is not likely to realise anything from the sell-off.

Spinvox had been touted as a great British success story until the wheels started to come off over the summer, and the firm was forced to admit it needed humans in call centres to supplement its technology.

One of the most bizarre of its twists and turns was the appointment of industry veteran Patricia Russo as a director - only for the former Lucent boss to resign almost immediately. ®

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