Walmart said it was joining Microsoft in a bid for TikTok’s U.S. assets, revealing its plans hours after the video company’s CEO said that he would 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 Chinese-owned short-form video app’s U.S. operations to Microsoft Corp or Oracle Corp.
TikTok owner ByteDance aims to enter exclusive talks with a bidder in the next 1-2 days and ink a deal by Sept. 15, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The sale of TikTok is happening as the company is under fire from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump as a potential national security risk due to the vast amount of private data the app is compiling on U.S. consumers.
The Trump administration has demanded that China’s ByteDance, which owns TikTok globally, sell its U.S. operations. Earlier this week, TikTok also sued over an executive order effectively banning it in the United States.
Retailer Walmart lauded TikTok’s integration of e-commerce and advertising capabilities in other markets and said that a three-way partnership could bring that integration to the United States. The deal would help Walmart reach customers across virtual and physical sales channels and grow its online marketplace and its advertising business. Shares of Walmart rose 6%.
“We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of U.S. TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of U.S. government regulators,” Walmart said in a statement.
Mayer was Walt Disney Co’s top streaming executive before becoming chief executive officer of TikTok and chief operating officer of parent ByteDance on June 1.
ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming said in a separate letter reviewed by Reuters that the company was “moving quickly to find resolutions to the issues that we face globally, particularly in the U.S. and India”.
He said Mayer had joined just as the company was “entering arguably our most challenging moment.”
“It is never easy to come into a leadership position in a company moving as quickly as we are, and the circumstances following his arrival made it all the more complex,” Zhang said.
Amid growing distrust between Washington and Beijing, Trump complained that TikTok was a national security threat and could share information about users with China’s government.
Trump issued an executive order banning U.S. transactions with TikTok on Aug. 6, effective in mid-September. He issued a separate order about a week later giving ByteDance 90 days to divest of TikTok’s U.S. operations and data.
ByteDance has been in talks to sell TikTok’s North American, Australian, and New Zealand operations which could be worth $25 billion to $30 billion, people with knowledge of the matter have said.
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