• Saturday, Sep 26, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:13 pm

Trump: Oracle close to TikTok deal, ByteDance aims for majority ownership

  • Published at 08:44 am September 16th, 2020
File photo: China and US flags are seen near a TikTok logo in this illustration picture taken July 16, 2020 REUTERS Reuters

Oracle would become ByteDance’s technology partner responsible for the management of TikTok’s data and take a minority stake in TikTok

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he had heard Oracle Corp was very close to a deal over ByteDance's TikTok, even as sources said the Chinese company was seeking to keep majority ownership of the popular short video app.

Trump has ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok amid US concerns user data could be passed to China’s Communist Party government. He has threatened to ban TikTok in the United States as early as Sunday if ByteDance does not comply.

Under ByteDance’s proposal, however, the Beijing-based company would keep a majority stake in TikTok’s global business and create headquarters for TikTok in the United States, the sources said. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that ByteDance has also offered to create 20,000 US jobs with TikTok.

Oracle would become ByteDance’s technology partner responsible for the management of TikTok’s data and take a minority stake in TikTok, the sources added.

“I heard they are very close to a deal,” Trump said, adding his administration would be making a decision soon on whether to approve it, and that he was a fan of Oracle’s Chairman Larry Ellison.

The ByteDance proposal calls for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the US government panel that is overseeing the deal talks, to supervise how TikTok will be operated, one of the sources said.

Also read: US government confirms receiving Oracle bid for TikTok

Mnuchin, who chairs CFIUS, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross were meeting at the White House on Tuesday to consider ByteDance’s proposal, two of the sources said.

It is unclear whether Trump will approve ByteDance’s proposal, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the deliberations are confidential. The White House, ByteDance and Oracle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Signing off on a deal for TikTok that would allow ByteDance to retain majority ownership would represent a U-turn for Trump and the US government agencies and departments that comprise CFIUS.

Trump signed an executive order on August 14 calling on ByteDance to divest TikTok in the United States.

In its lawsuit against Trump’s previous executive order, dated August 6, which calls on TikTok to be banned, the app said CFIUS had not identified any mitigation measures that would address the national security risks, despite TikTok proposing to bring in “trusted US technology partners,” as it has now branded Oracle.

Some CFIUS experts said the deal’s approval would signal a major departure from the traditional national security reviews of deals driven by US civil servants.

“Nothing about this transaction is usual. It appears to be in the hands of the politicians rather than the professional CFIUS staff,” said Paul Marquardt, a regulatory lawyer at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. “What is extraordinary here is how public and political the process is, and the continuation of negotiations after the issuance of a divestiture order.”

File photo: The Oracle logo is shown on an office building in Irvine, California, US June 28, 2018 Reuters

While TikTok is best known for dancing videos that go viral among teenagers, US officials have had concerns since 2019 about whether the personal information of its 100 million US users could be compromised under its Chinese owner.

ByteDance's plan calls for restrictions in its control of TikTok, the sources said. It asks CFIUS to agree to operational arrangements similar to those it put in place when it allowed SoftBank Group Corp to acquire US wireless carrier Sprint in 2013, according to the sources. These could include the US government approving board directors at TikTok, as well as its relationships with major vendors, the sources said.

ByteDance is also hoping that Ellison’s fundraising for Trump, as well as Oracle Chief Executive Safra Catz’s backing of Trump’s transition team four years ago, will boost its chances, Reuters has reported.

Deal does not envisage payment to US government

ByteDance’s top investors - General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital and Coatue Management LLC - have discussed taking minority stakes in TikTok, though their participation in the deal remains uncertain, one of the sources said.

Also uncertain is Walmart Inc's participation in the deal, after Microsoft Corp, which the retail giant had aligned with, was rejected by ByteDance.

Also read: TikTok owner plans to spend billions in Singapore after US ban

Walmart and the investment firms did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump said last month “a very substantial portion” of any proceeds ByteDance receives from selling a stake in TikTok should go to the US government “because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen.” ByteDance’s proposal, however, does not envision paying any such fee.

China also got involved in the process in August, updating its export control rules to give it a say over the transfer of technology, such as TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, to a foreign buyer. Chinese officials have said ByteDance should not be coerced by the United States into a deal.

Reuters reported last week that China’s government would rather see TikTok shut down in the United States than see it be part of a forced sale.

The proposed deal with Oracle would not require ByteDance to apply to Chinese authorities for an export license for TikTok’s algorithm.

blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail