A low-profile investment firm is trying to entice the head of TikTok’s parent company with a long-shot alternative bid, as the popular video-sharing app remains caught in a standoff between the U.S. and China.
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London-based Centricus Asset Management Ltd. has revised an offer several times in recent weeks based on feedback from Zhang Yiming, CEO of TikTok parent ByteDance Ltd., and his advisers, according to people familiar with the discussions, a copy of the bid, and other documents pertaining to the offer viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The bid’s architects are positioning it as a backup to a deal already on the table led by Oracle Corp., which China’s ByteDance struck to appease the U.S. government and which was preliminarily approved by President Trump last month. The U.S. has called the app a national security concern.
Mr. Trump has said that he wants TikTok’s U.S. operations owned by Americans. Centricus says in its bid it will create a new holding company in a jurisdiction that is acceptable to the U.S. and China.
People close to Centricus say they see the firm’s odds of success as low. Centricus executives believe that if the Chinese government ultimately blocks the Oracle ORCL 2.23% deal, their bid could be seen as a potential middle path, one that preserves value for the existing investors and satisfies U.S. concerns that TikTok’s data not be in Chinese hands, while also preventing an American takeover of one of China’s most successful tech companies. Centricus also said in its bid that it is open to the participation of existing investors and American companies.
Some senior officials in both the U.S. and China are believed to be opposed to the existing Oracle deal, and there is no guarantee it will ultimately be approved by either Washington or Beijing.
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