American retail giant Walmart has joined Microsoft in bidding for the US operations of TikTok, from its its Chinese owner ByteDance.

ByteDance has been in talks with a number of potential acquirers including Microsoft, Oracle and Twitter, while some of its US investors may also join the bid.

It comes after US President Donald Trump on 6 August signed an executive order that will prohibit US companies from carrying out TikTok-related deals with ByteDance after 45 days (on 15 September).

CEO departure

The executive order against TikTok (and WeChat owner Tecent) was because the US believes they pose a national security risk because the app collects data on users, which “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”

The US President has effectively banned TikTok unless its US operations are sold to a domestic company by that date.

Earlier this week, the American face of TikTok, CEO Kevin Mayer, stepped after just two months in charge, citing the sharply changed political environment.

The move was a blow for TikTok, as it mounts a legal challenge against the US executive order.

Walmart enters

Now Walmart is joining forces with Microsoft in a bid for TikTok’s US assets.

TikTok owner ByteDance aims to enter exclusive talks with a bidder in the next 24 to 48 hours and ink a deal by 15 September, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

“The way TikTok has integrated e-commerce and advertising capabilities in other markets is a clear benefit to creators and users in those markets,” said Walmart in a statement on the matter.

“We believe a potential relationship with TikTok US in partnership with Microsoft could add this key functionality and provide Walmart with an important way for us to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses,” it added.

“We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of US TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of US government regulators,” the retail giant concluded.

ByteDance has been in talks to sell TikTok’s North American, Australian and New Zealand operations which could be worth $25 billion to $30 billion, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

The company has also been targeted in India, where TikTok was one of 59 Chinese apps banned by the Indian government in June following a border clash between India and China that resulted in a number of deaths.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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