Sunday 2 August 2020 4:44 pm

Microsoft shelves plans to buy US arm of Tiktok

A potential sale of video platform Tiktok to Microsoft is reportedly on hold after US President Donald Trump vowed to ban the Chinese-owned app over national security concerns.

Tiktok owner Bytedance yesterday told the White House it was seeking a sale of its US operations to Microsoft, in a bid to curb restrictions on the video app.

Read more: Tiktok sets up $2bn fund to poach creators from rivals

The move came after Trump on Friday vowed to ban the Tiktok in the US, and said a sale to any party — including Microsoft — would not be permitted.

“As far as Tiktok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters on Friday, adding that he would use presidential powers to enforce the decision. 

Trump’s comments come on the background of mounting fears that data collected by the social media platform could be handed to the Chinese Communist Party and used for state spying. Tiktok denies the claims.

In a statement yesterday, a White House spokesman said: “The administration has very serious national security concerns over Tiktok. We continue to evaluate future policy.” 

The Wall Street Journal today reported that Microsoft have now paused sale talks after Trump said he opposed the deal. 

It added that Tiktok made a last-ditch plea to win over the White House, which included a promise to create thousands of jobs over the next three years.

No prices were disclosed, but the shelved sales talks were believed to be in the range of between $15bn and $30bn.

However, the Financial Times reported that Trump’s intervention may have been a negotiating method intended to force the Chinese group to sell its US business at a lower price than it had earmarked for Microsoft.

Read more: Tiktok boss attacks Facebook as parent firm weighs $50bn takeover bid

It added that Microsoft president Brad Smith visited officials in Washington last month to assess whether a takeover of Tiktok by a US company would address the government’s concerns over the Chinese firm.

A Tiktok spokesperson said in a statement today: “While we do not comment on rumours or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of Tiktok.” 

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