TikTok sale to Microsoft-Walmart or Oracle could come as early as this weekend
Walmart's deep ties to Washington may give it an edge
Confirmation of a signed and binding deal to purchase the U.S. assets of TikTok could come as soon as tonight and before Monday, FOX Business has learned.
Sources familiar with negotiations say there is now a possibility the deal won’t include TikTok’s Australia, New Zealand or Canadian arms.
“Why sell off assets when you don’t have to?" sources said, "That’s why the U.K. arm was never part of the sale.”
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TikTok officials see little reason to rush and “have a fire sale” of assets that TikTok's Chinese parent Bytedance knows are incredibly valuable.
While Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and his bidding partners, General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital, are still in the running, sources say Microsoft now has a firmer edge after Walmart confirmed it’s partnering with the software giant.
“Microsoft didn’t need Walmart. Initially, Satya Nadella wanted to go it alone,” one person with knowledge told FOX Business referring to the Microsoft CEO.
So why Walmart?
"Walmart is well-loved in D.C., more so even than Microsoft,” the source said. Last year, The Department of Defense granted Microsoft a $10 billion dollar cloud computing contract.
TikTok, Microsoft and Oracle all separately declined comment.
Silverlake Partners and KKR showed an early interest in TikTok
In late July, anti-China sentiment swirled and President Donald Trump announced on Aug. 6 that, unless the Chinese-owned app was sold to an American technology company, he’d ban the short-form video app by Sept. 15.
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Persons familiar with TikTok-parent Bytedance’s early-stage negotiations said private equity firms, Silverlake Partners and KKR, separately showed interest but they dropped out of the running as it became clear the Trump Administration would only approve a sale to a U.S. company with the technological ability to seal off user data from China.
“The government lost faith in private equity to build an engineering talent strong enough to pull it off,” the source said.
Silverlake Partners and KKR had no immediate comment.
But Dan Ives, Wedbush managing director told FOX Business, the Microsoft engineers at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., were the one people capable of separating millions of lines of code.
Wal-mart's e-commerce expertise topped off the deal, Ives said.
Former TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer’s job “was to get this to a sale.”
Former Disney top deal-making executive Kevin Mayer signed on as TikTok CEO just over three months ago. He resigned early Thursday citing the political pressures bearing down on the wildly popular app which boasts 100 million users. Mayer’s representative declined to comment but sources in media say Mayer will have pulled off something never before seen in corporate America.
“No CEO has ever been put in the crosshairs so quickly and publicly by a President of the United States who demands a sale to a U.S. entity,” he said.
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Bytedance sources confirm to FOX Business that, except for the Microsoft bid, Mayer was "intimately involved" in hearing out every interested buyer and vetting every deal that came to the table. “
"Kevin’s job was to get this to a sale, and he did,” the sources said.
In a related development, TikTok's much smaller competitor, Triller, which boasts 65 million global monthly active users, compared to TikTok's 800 million global monthly active users — is said to be exploring a bid for the app as well. FOX Business was first to report Triller’s interest in a TikTok bid.
Triller is said to be seeking outside money to finance a potential bid but observers give it low odds given the massive price tag that even TikTok's U.S. division would fetch ranging from $20 billion to $50 billion.
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