Another contender to acquire the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand operations of TikTok has emerged.
According to the Financial Times, software giant Oracle has held preliminary talks with TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance.
The newspaper, citing people briefed about the matter, reported that Oracle was seriously considering buying the app’s operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Oracle is reportedly working with a group of US investors that already own a stake in ByteDance, namely General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital.
And the entry of Oracle into the race provided ByteDance with a credible alternative to Microsoft’s offer, said one person with direct knowledge of the matter.
ByteDance is also reportedly talking with Twitter about a possible sale.
But it is clear ByteDance is holding talks reluctantly, and it has vowed to sue the US government over an executive order against the company.
President Trump last week had ordered ByteDance to divest the US operations within 90 days, over concerns about the safety of the personal data it handles.
Trump also signed an executive order targeting WeChat owner Tencent.
The orders ban US companies from making deals with the two Chinese firms after a period of 45 days.
Trump has essentially threatened to ban TikTok after 15 September unless its US operations are sold to a domestic US company.
Trump has also said he would support the acquisition, as long as the US government receives a “substantial portion” of the sale price.
TikTok is reportedly worth tens of billions of dollars.
Industry-watchers have speculated that the US may use the executive orders to ban WeChat and TikTok from Apple’s App Store and Google Play worldwide, bringing into question the ability of Tencent and ByteDance to sustain their international businesses.
The orders are part of a broader trade-related conflict between the US and China that has seen the US take a series of actions against Chinese firms such as Huawei and ZTE.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this month urged American companies to remove “untrusted” Chinese-owned technology from their networks.
The administration’s push for a so-called “clean network” was called an act of “madness” by Chinese state-backed media.
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