According to five top insider, Microsoft is chasing a deal to buy all of TikTok’s global business, including the viral video app’s operations in India and Europe, according to five people with knowledge of the talks.
The US software company said it was in negotiations with ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok, to explore “a purchase of the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand”.
But Microsoft has since also pursued a plan that would include all countries where TikTok operates. TikTok does not operate in China, and such a deal would not extend to its China-facing sister app Douyin.
One person close to ByteDance’s Asia-Pacific operations suggested that Microsoft had been attracted to the idea of buying all of TikTok’s global business by the difficulty of separating back-office functions such as HR and to ensure that TikTok users in one country could still use the app if they travelled to another.
India is TikTok’s biggest market, with more than 650m downloads according to Sensor Tower data. But it has been banned in India since the end of June, when the government put it on a blacklist of 59 Chinese mobile apps that it accused of threatening national security.
A purchase by Microsoft may help restore its fortunes by removing the stigma of Chinese ownership at a time when anti-China sentiment has been inflamed by a deadly clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Himalayas earlier this year.
One person close to ByteDance in India said there was a “deal in the works” with Microsoft for TikTok India but that if it fell through, ByteDance could sell TikTok India either to foreign investors or Indian buyers. ByteDance would then license its technology to the company and share revenue.
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