Lernout & Hauspie To Acquire Dictaphone

HONG KONG (03/08/2000) - Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products N.V. (L&H), a major voice-software vendor, has agreed to buy dictation and call-center company Dictaphone Corp., L&H announced today.

The acquisition will boost L&H's presence in the medical dictation market and allow it to expand sales of Dictaphone products in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, according to a company statement.

L&H will exchange approximately 4.5 million of its shares to acquire 100 percent of privately-held Dictaphone. At L&H's closing price of US$107.5 on Nasdaq yesterday, the acquisition would be worth approximately $510.6 million.

The company expects to keep Dictaphone management in place and maintain the company's headquarters, according to the statement.

By combining Dictaphone's medical dictation and transcription products with its own speech and Web technology and data and audio-mining capabilities, L&H plans to create products that will reduce the cost of transcription and patient record management.

In addition, L&H will combine the data and audio mining technology with Dictaphone's telephone call-center recording and quality monitoring, creating solutions that can process recorded speech to identify speakers and topics. The products will also make it easier to archive and sort audio information from telephone calls, such as transaction calls from a call center, according to the company statement.

L&H is a pioneer in developing voice-recognition and text-to-speech software for PCs and other digital systems, including interfaces for handheld devices and the Wireless Application Protocol that were demonstrated earlier this year.

Dictaphone, a longtime maker of analog dictation devices, has evolved its business into digital dictation and call recording in health care and telecommunications industries.

L&H, based in Belgium, can be reached online at http://www.lhs.com/.

Dictaphone, in Stratford, Connecticut., can be reached online at http://www.dictaphone.com/.

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