Walmart and Microsoft team up to bid for TikTok in the US

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Walmart, the multinational retail giant, said it was joining Microsoft in bidding for the US operations of TikTok, the popular social media platform.

The US based company announced its plans just hours after the chief executive of TikTok said he’d step down.

CEO Kevin Mayer, a high-profile former Disney executive, is leaving three months after joining TikTok in the middle of negotiations to sell the US operations of the Chinese-owned short-form video app to tech giants Microsoft or Oracle.

In the next 24 to 48 hours, TikTok owner ByteDance intends to enter into exclusive talks with a bidder, and finalize a deal by September 15, sources say.

The deal, which is set to fetch around $30 billion, will give Walmart and Microsoft access to millions of consumers.

Retailer Walmart praised the incorporation of e-commerce and advertisement resources of TikTok, and said a three-way alliance could expand the integration into the United States.

The deal will help Walmart reach customers through the channels of virtual and physical sales, and expand its business of online marketplace and advertising .

“We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of U.S. TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of US government regulators,” Walmart said in a statement.

There is no clarity as to how the ownership of TikTok will be split among the companies if the deal is successful.

TikTok’s sale is taking place as the firm is under pressure from the US administration. President Donald Trump considers it a threat to the country’s national security, due to the huge volume of private data the app compiles about its users.

The Trump administration has insisted that China sell its US operations to ByteDance, which owns TikTok globally. Earlier this week, TikTok filed a lawsuit against the order which banned the app in the country.

ByteDance is also in talks to sell TikTok’s operations in North America, Australia and New Zealand that could be worth $25 billion to $30 billion.

Following the India-China border dispute, the app was also banned in India along with 58 other Chinese apps. India was one of TikTok’s largest markets.

Reports from earlier this month indicated ByteDance was in talks with India’s Reliance for investment in TikTok.

Since ByteDance launched the app in 2017, TikTok has become a global phenomenon, with operations in countries like South Korea, Indonesia, France, Brazil and Russia. In April, the app reached 2 billion downloads worldwide.