Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Microsoft confirms talks to buy TikTok's U.S. operation

Aug 03. 2020
Microsoft said it will continue talks to buy video app TikTok.  CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Lam Yik
Microsoft said it will continue talks to buy video app TikTok. CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Lam Yik
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By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Linus Chua, Shelly Banjo, Dina Bass · BUSINESS, TECHNOLOGY 

Microsoft confirmed that it is in talks to buy TikTok's operations in the U.S. and several other countries after a discussion between CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald Trump.

Talks will move quickly "in a matter of weeks" and are expected to be completed no later than Sept. 15, it said in a statement. The company will continue to engage Trump and the U.S. government.

The purchase would result in Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Microsoft said it may invite other American investors to take minority stakes in the company, which is owned by one of China's largest tech companies, ByteDance.

Microsoft also pledged to add more security, privacy and digital safety protections and ensure that all private data of Americans be transferred back to the U.S. and deleted from servers outside the country.

"Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President's concerns," the company said. "It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury."

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ByteDance, the Chinese parent of the popular short-video app, has been racing to address Trump administration concerns that the service presents a security threat. Trump and his advisers have said they plan to ban TikTok in the U.S., prompting negotiations with potential buyers.

Over the weekend, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said the Trump administration will announce measures shortly against "a broad array" of Chinese-owned software deemed to pose national-security risks, suggesting the actions may go beyond the one Chinese app.

TikTok has become one of the world's most popular apps. It's been downloaded more than 2 billion times globally and more than 165 million times in the U.S. ByteDance is prepared to sell 100% of TikTok's U.S. operations as a way to head off a ban by Trump, two people with knowledge of the situation said earlier.

TikTok has hired almost 1,000 people in the U.S. this year and will be employing another 10,000 into "great paying jobs" in the U.S., a company spokeswoman said in a statement. The business's $1 billion creator fund also supports people in the country who are building livelihoods from the platform, she added.

"TikTok U.S. user data is stored in the U.S., with strict controls on employee access," she said. "TikTok's biggest investors come from the U.S. We are committed to protecting our users' privacy and safety."

 

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