TikTok sale to Oracle, Walmart reportedly on hold as Biden administration reviews

A man holding a phone walks past a sign of Chinese company ByteDance’s app TikTok, known locally as Douyin, at the International Artificial Products Expo in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China October 18, 2019.

Reuters

Oracle and Walmart’s plan to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations has been pushed back indefinitely, as President Joe Biden reviews former president Donald Trump’s efforts to address potential security risks from Chinese tech companies, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Oracle’s stock was slightly positive in premarket trading Wednesday and Walmart’s was slightly negative.

Trump pushed TikTok to find an American buyer by threatening to ban the popular video app due to concerns that its Chinese parent company ByteDance could hand over U.S. users’ data to the Chinese government. TikTok has denied that this is the case or that it would it hand over U.S. data if asked by Chinese officials. Servers for the app are not based in China and so far, many of the concerns still appear to be hypothetical.

TikTok ultimately struck a partnership deal with Oracle and Walmart that would include the U.S. businesses buying a stake in the app and providing secure technology. Under the terms of the deal, ByteDance would still own 80% of the business, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC last year. Still, Trump said in September that he had approved the deal in principle.

But the arrangement has stalled as TikTok fought with the Trump administration in court over the attempted ban. Federal judges repeatedly pushed back the ban, with one saying in a December ruling that the Commerce Department under Trump “likely overstepped” its legal authority in issuing it.

Sources told the Journal that TikTok has continued talks with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) but that the ultimate deal would likely be different than the one originally struck. Chinese regulators would also have to approve the deal.

Representatives for the companies involved in the deal and the Commerce and Treasury Departments did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

Read the full Journal story here.

-Reuters contributed to this report.



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