TikTok appears set to ward off ban with sale
ByteDance, the Chinese internet giant that owns TikTok, has offered to sell all of the popular video app’s American operations as a way to save the business from being banned by the Trump administration, a person with knowledge of the matter said Saturday.
President Trump had told reporters Friday that he is considering options for TikTok, including banning it. White House officials have said the app may pose a national security threat because of its Chinese ownership. India, one of TikTok’s largest markets, banned the app in June, citing security concerns. That helped prompt the Trump administration to consider with greater urgency whether TikTok should be curbed in the United States as well.
ByteDance’s offer to completely divest TikTok’s American operations was initially reported by Reuters.
It was not clear whether the divestment would be a sufficient response. ByteDance had previously sought to keep a minority stake in TikTok’s American operations, but the administration rejected that, according to the person with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions are confidential.
Microsoft and other companies have been in talks to buy TikTok, but a deal has not yet been reached. The proposed divestment would not necessarily affect the company’s operations outside the U.S. TikTok has said it has 100 million users in the U.S.
“While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the longterm success of TikTok,” a company representative said Saturday.
Pressure on TikTok has been building for months. Last fall, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States began examining ByteDance’s 2017 purchase of Musical.ly, a video app that was later merged into TikTok. Lawmakers and White House officials have also expressed concerns that TikTok data could be made available to the Chinese government, which the company has repeatedly denied.
In May, TikTok hired top Disney executive Kevin Mayer to be CEO as part of an effort to emphasize its autonomy within ByteDance, which is headquartered in Beijing.