People sell real estate on TikTok
After threatening the US President : Microsoft wants to buy the social media app Tiktok
A takeover maneuver by the software giant Microsoft could possibly prevent the ban on the Tiktok video platform threatened by US President Donald Trump. Microsoft confirmed on Sunday (local time) for the first time that it was aiming to acquire Tiktok's US business.
CEO Satya Nadella and Trump had exchanged views that Microsoft now wants to hold further talks with the Chinese Tiktok owner ByteDance. The aim is to reach a deal by September 15. Trump gives the Chinese internet giant ByteDance a 45-day deadline to negotiate a sale of the app to Microsoft, said two people familiar with the matter on Sunday, reports the Reuters news agency.
ByteDance is under high pressure to sell Tiktok's US business as Trump announced a ban on the popular app in the United States over security concerns. The US government fears that Tiktok will lead to data from US citizens falling into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
Trump wants to push back Beijing's influence in the US with all his might, other Chinese corporations such as the telecom giants Huawei and ZTE have already felt this.
Microsoft wants to take Trump's objections seriously
However, should a US company take over Tiktok's business in the United States, the app could continue to have a future there. ByteDance has therefore been trying for a long time to separate its international platform from the Chinese version.
The US media had already reported on Microsoft's interest on Friday, but then Trump initially expressed his disapproval and reiterated his intention to ban. Now Microsoft has officially spoken out for the first time.
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The group said it would take Trump's objections seriously, but continue to pursue the takeover plan after the talks between CEO Nadella and the president. This points to a concession from Trump and a possible agreement.
The "Wall Street Journal" had previously reported, citing insiders, that negotiations between Microsoft and ByteDance had been stopped for the time being because of resistance from the White House.
Trump himself initially did not respond to the Microsoft announcement. His Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had previously only said that there was non-partisan agreement that Tiktok could not continue in its current form in the United States.
Only the censored version is running in China
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday that Trump would “take action in the coming days on a wide range of national security risks posed by software related to the Chinese Communist Party”.
Microsoft emphasized that a takeover would only come into consideration with the consent of the government and in the course of a security review and clear evidence of a benefit to the US economy. The dialogue with the Trump administration should continue during the further talks with ByteDance in the coming weeks.
According to the announcement, Microsoft not only wants to take over Tiktok's US business, but also those in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
[More on the subject: TikTok App - "State access not excluded"]
The group is also open to other investors who participate as minority partners. This could open a door for a number of existing American shareholders of ByteDance around the venture capitalist Sequoia Capital, who, because of the impending ban by the US government, have also been aiming for a takeover on their own for a long time.
Microsoft emphasized, however, that the negotiations were in a preliminary stage and there was no certainty whether an agreement would ultimately be reached.
Tiktok is an internationally successful video platform that is offered in 65 languages on 175 markets. Users can upload self-created short clips there or view those of others. In mainland China there is only the censored version Douyin.
100 million Tiktok users in the US
US authorities have repeatedly raised concerns that the network, which is used by nearly one billion people worldwide, is disclosing user data to the Chinese government. Among others, the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS), which investigates transactions that affect the national security of the United States, expressed such concerns. Tiktok has so far rejected all allegations about the disclosure of user data.
Tiktok assures that the platform is about creative content in which "privacy and security" are protected. China's government has no access to user data and has never asked for it. The user data would be stored and processed in the USA.
Tiktok is growing rapidly and has long been considered the hippest big platform for younger people. How much Microsoft would have to pay for Tiktok is still unclear. But it is likely to be in the double-digit billions. (Reuters, AFP, dpa)
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