Sat. Sep 26th, 2020

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Oracle wins bidding war for TikTok’s US operations

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ByteDance has reached a preliminary “technical partnership” agreement with Oracle for TikTok’s US operations that does not include a full sale of the short video app, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

As part of the deal, Oracle plans to address the national security concerns that the Trump administration has raised over the Chinese company’s ownership of TikTok, said one of the people.

The US technology group chaired by Larry Ellison, one of the few people in Silicon Valley who has publicly supported US President Donald Trump, is likely to own a minority stake in the US business.

Existing ByteDance investors are also expected to have a stake in the final deal, said one person with knowledge of the discussions, who added that the talks are still fluid and subject to change. Any deal will require the support of the US and Chinese governments.

Oracle did not respond to requests for comment. ByteDance declined to comment.

The developments followed a protracted bidding process that pitted Oracle against Microsoft, which announced in early August that it was discussing the purchase of TikTok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Microsoft said on Sunday that ByteDance had rejected its bid, leaving Oracle as the only remaining suitor.

“We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests,” the company wrote in a blog post.

A deal with Oracle would place TikTok’s US business in the hands of one of Mr Trump’s closest corporate allies in Silicon Valley. Oracle is best known as an enterprise software provider but its cloud computing business could benefit from gaining TikTok as a customer.

It was unclear whether Mr Trump would approve of a partnership arrangement such as the one ByteDance has discussed with Oracle. The president has called for a full sale of TikTok’s US operations to satisfy national security concerns.

China’s involvement has also complicated the deal talks, with Beijing imposing export controls covering “personalised information recommendation services based on data analysis” such as those used by ByteDance.

Mr Trump has threatened to ban TikTok as soon as Tuesday unless a deal is reached, though his executive order had set a legal deadline of September 20 for ByteDance to find a buyer. TikTok has sued the Trump administration over the order, arguing it was politically motivated and ignored due process.

Kevin Mayer resigned as chief executive in August just months after taking the job, saying the global role he signed up for had been jeopardised by the Trump administration’s desire for a sale of the US business.

Oracle had been working with ByteDance investors including General Atlantic, the private equity group, and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital on its bid.

Sequoia declined to comment.

General Atlantic did not respond to a request for comment.

2020-09-13 22:22:32

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