More suitors arrive to acquire operations of troubled short video sharing app TikTok with the latest bid coming from UK-based Centricus Asset Management Ltd which has reportedly placed a combined bid of $20 billion along with US-based Triller Inc.
Investors at Centricus are working with Triller, a regional video and music-based social networking app which is expected to hold a minority stake in a newly proposed joint entity.
The newbies are bidding for TikTok’s operations in the US, Australia, New Zealand and India with a proposal including $10 billion in cash upfront and $10 billion in profit-sharing from the resulting venture.
China-based ByteDance, the parent of TikTok has already received interests from the likes of Microsoft Corp., Twitter, Alphabet and Oracle Corp with Walmart Inc joining in late to support the Windows OS maker.
ByteDance, on the other hand, seemed to less interested in the development. When asked about a Centricus and Triller bid, a TikTik spokesman replied, “What’s Triller?” with a separate spokeswoman calling the potential deal “preposterous.”
Microsoft first emerged as a possible buyer for TikTok’s US operations as ByteDance was forced to divest in its most popular service after American President Donald Trump threatened to ban the TikTok app in the U.S. and then ordered ByteDance sell its U.S. assets, citing national security concerns.
The Trump administration also demanded that the buyer of TikTok’s U.S. business must be an American company, which makes it unclear how a Centricus bid will be received, even with Triller involved.
Centricus was founded in 2016 by former investment bankers Nizar Al-Bassam and Dalinc Ariburnu. The firm advised SoftBank Group Corp. on the creation of its $100 billion Vision Fund, helping to raise money from the Middle East including Saudi Arabia. It also worked on SoftBank’s $3.3 billion takeover of Fortress Investment Group LLC.
Triller, whose shareholders include music talent and entertainment executives, has grown 600% year over year with 50 million monthly active users as reported in July.