IBM Explores Sale of IBM Watson Health

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International Business Machines Corp. is exploring a potential sale of its IBM Watson Health business, according to people familiar with the matter, as the technology giant’s new chief executive moves to streamline the company and become more competitive in cloud computing.

IBM is studying alternatives for the unit that could include a sale to a private-equity firm or industry player or a merger with a blank-check company, the people said. The unit, which employs artificial intelligence to help hospitals, insurers and drugmakers manage their data, has roughly $1 billion in annual revenue and isn’t currently profitable, the people said.

Its brands include Merge Healthcare, which analyzes mammograms and MRIs; Phytel, which assists with patient communications; and Truven Health Analytics, which analyzes complex healthcare data.

It isn’t clear how much the business might fetch in a sale, and there may not be one.

IBM, with a market value of $108 billion, has been left behind as cloud-computing rivals Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. soar to valuations more than 10 times greater. The Armonk, N.Y., company has said it’s focused on boosting its hybrid-cloud operations while exiting some unrelated businesses.

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