TikTok's Chinese owner 'to sell US operations to Microsoft' to avoid Trump ban

ByteDance, owners TikTok has reportedly agreed to sell U.S. operations of the popular short-video app to Microsoft to escape President Donald Trump's ban.

The US President had told reporters onboard Air Force One late on Friday that he would issue an order for TikTok to be banned in the United States on Saturday.

 “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States. “I will sign the document tomorrow,” he said.

U.S. officials have said TikTok under the Chinese Tech company poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles.

Under the new proposed deal, ByteDance would exit completely and Microsoft Corp would take over TikTok in the United States, Reuters reports.

While Microsoft, which also owns professional social media network LinkedIn, will be in charge of protecting all of TikTok’s U.S. user data, another U.S. company other than Microsoft will take over TikTok in the United States.

“What’s the right answer? Have an American company like Microsoft take over TikTok. Win-win. Keeps competition alive and data out of the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

Meanwhile, according to  Wall Street Journal, the talks between Microsoft and ByteDance were paused after President Trump voiced his opposition to the deal.

The report said while the deal does not appear to be dead, both parties are trying to get a handle on where the Trump administration stands, and if it plans any future action against the Chinese-based video sharing app.

While announcing plan to ban the app, Trump had told reporters, “Not the deal that you have been hearing about, that they are going to buy and sell... We are not an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) country."

TikTok US General Manager Vanessa Pappas said in a video on Saturday that “we’re not planning on going anywhere” and the company is “here for the long run.”

As relations between the United States and China deteriorate over trade, Hong Kong’s autonomy, cyber security and the outbreak of coronavirus, TikTok has emerged as a flashpoint in the dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

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