Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok’s US platform after President Donald Trump appeared to back off his threat to ban the Chinese video app for unspecified national security reasons, Axios reports.
Trump announced on Friday that he would ban the app as soon as Saturday through some form of executive action.
“As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States.,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. “I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or [emergency economic powers]."
The comments came after Microsoft’s interest in the platform emerged but Trump made clear that he was not in favor of such a deal.
Trump backs off:
Despite Trump’s announcement, White House sources told Axios that the administration was still on the fence about what to do.
Banning the app would undoubtedly result in numerous legal challenges.
According to Reuters, Trump agreed on Sunday to allow Microsoft to negotiate an acquisition within 45 days after a discussion with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
The negotiations between Microsoft and TikTok owner ByteDance will be overseen by CFIUS, a government panel that can block foreign deals.
“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns. 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,” Microsoft said in a statement.
Microsoft in negotiations:
Under a proposed deal reported by Reuters, Microsoft would buy TikTok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Microsoft said it would ensure that all user data remains in the US.
It’s unclear how much Microsoft would pay for the platform but ByteDance values it at over $50 billion, according to Reuters.
“A key issue in the negotiations will be separating TikTok’s technology from ByteDance’s infrastructure and access, to alleviate U.S. concerns about the integrity of personal data. ByteDance owns a Chinese short video app called Douyin that was based on the same code used for TikTok,” the outlet reported. “One idea under consideration is to give Microsoft and ByteDance a transition period to develop technology for TikTok that will be completely separate from ByteDance.”