Siri software maker Nuance adds Icahn nominees to board

Reuters

Oct 8 (Reuters) - Nuance Communications Inc, makerof the software that runs the Siri feature on Apple iPhones, appointed two Carl Icahn nominees to its board, justover a month after the activist investor raised his stake in thecompany to 16.7 percent.

Nuance named Icahn's son Brett and David Schechter asdirectors, giving Icahn two members on the 11-member board.

"I'm optimistic their impact at NUAN will be similar to HAINwhere stock went from $20.20 to $79.56 over the three years theysat on the board," Icahn said in a tweet.

HAIN refers to organic food producer Hain Celestial GroupInc, in which Icahn had a stake until last month.

Icahn, who is known for taking large positions in companiesand pushing for management change, has agreed to customarystandstill provisions, the company said.

Nuance's shares were down 1 percent at $18.29 on the Nasdaq,suggesting investors don't expect any big changes soon.

Icahn's investment in Nuance comes at a time when thebillionaire investor is putting pressure on Apple, a majorNuance customer, to return cash to shareholders.

Icahn, Nuance's biggest shareholder, first revealed aninterest in the company in April, disclosing a 9.27 percentstake.

After he raised his stake to 16.03 percent in August, Nuanceadopted a stockholder rights plan - or poison pill - to reducethe chance of any investor gaining control.

The Icahn ownership has put a floor on Nuance shares, FBRCapital Markets & Co analyst Daniel Ives wrote in a note.

"...Taking on board seats in the company could be thecatalyst to move Nuance in a direction that would significantlyenhance shareholder value," he said.

Wedbush Securities analyst Shyam Patil told Reuters heexpected Icahn's influence to result in more optimal capitalallocation, including a slowdown in acquisitions, and acontinuation of share buybacks.

Nuance had made about a dozen acquisitions over the past2-1/2 years.

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