The winning bidder for TikTok’s U.S., New Zealand and Australian operations could be announced as soon as Tuesday (Sept. 1), sources told CNBC.
But the source did not reveal or perhaps did not know whether the winning bidder is the team of Microsoft Corp. and Walmart Inc., Oracle, Twitter or an unnamed company that has negotiated under the radar.
The saga began on Aug. 6 when President Donald Trump issued an executive decision to ban transactions with TikTok or its parent company, China-based ByteDance Ltd., within 45 days. Later, Trump issued an order that gave the China-based company 90 days, until Sept. 20, to divest its U.S. TikTok operations.
Trump raised security issues alleging the app could be taking personal information from TikTok users and passing it on to the Chinese government. ByteDance has denied the allegations and filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, where TikTok’s American operations are based. ByteDance argues Trump’s far-reaching action is unconstitutional because it failed to give the company a chance to respond. It also alleges that the administration’s national security justification for the order is false.
Last week, TikTok’s interim head said the popular video-sharing app and the retail giant have lots in common and she likes the pairing.
“I think there’s a lot of different synergies there,” Vanessa Pappas told “Squawk Box.” “For us, we’ve been really focused recently on rolling out some eCommerce features. We’ve been providing that for our creator community as another way for them to earn a livelihood.”
Walmart has confirmed it is teaming up with Microsoft to buy TikTok’s U.S. headquarters in Culver City, California, as well as the company’s operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The deal could be worth as much as $30 billion.
“I think if you look at the various players and the partners that we’re hearing from, I think they’re amazing tech companies,” Pappas said. “Oracle has its strengths in terms of being a leading data infrastructure company and focused on security … Microsoft as well, great security and privacy platform as well as everything they’re doing with [the] cloud.”
The network reported Walmart preferred majority ownership in the deal that would have included Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, and SoftBank. But U.S. government officials made it clear a tech company should lead the deal, according to sources and the Alphabet and Soft Bank dropped out. Under the terms of the deal with Microsoft, Walmart would be a minority owner of TikTok.