Confirming rumors that have been swirling for days, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) said Sunday it has been in talks to buy the short-form video app TikTok in the U.S. and several other countries from its Chinese parent ByteDance. Microsoft said it is working with the federal government to ensure the deal could be approved by regulators, and is working to conclude talks by Sept. 15.
Though President Trump initially said he opposed such a deal, he has reportedly given Microsoft 45 days to negotiate the acquisition, according to a report by Reuters. In recent weeks, Trump has repeatedly said he plans to ban the app, though he has yet to follow through with those threats.
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ByteDance has been considering selling its TikTok operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in order to pre-empt the threatened ban, and has said it would ensure that all user data from those markets would be transferred as part of a sale.
TikTok has an estimated 100 million users in the U.S. alone. The app is wildly popular among teens and celebrities whose lip-sync and dance clips often go viral. The company hired former Disney (NYSE: DIS) streaming executive Kevin Mayer to help burnish its reputation among U.S. investors.
There have been concerns that the personal data collected by the app poses a national security risk to the U.S. due to ByteDance's Chinese ownership. After Microsoft CEO Satay Nadella held discussions with Trump, the company confirmed it would continue negotiating to buy the popular app.
Acquiring TikTok would be something of a coup for the tech giant, who has been unsuccessful in its efforts to create its own social media platform.
Microsoft said it might "invite other American investors" to take minority stakes in TikTok, which could sell for as much as $50 billion, though the threat of the ban could drive its price lower.
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