China's ByteDance said on Monday that TikTok's global business will become its subsidiary, even as Oracle and Walmart said over the weekend that they and US investors would own the majority of the video app following a deal with US President Donald Trump's administration.
Trump signed an executive order on August 14 giving ByteDance 90 days to sell TikTok, amid concerns that the personal data of as many as 100 million Americans that use the app could be passed on to China's Communist Party government. On Saturday, he said he supported a deal in principle that would allow TikTok to continue to operate in the United States.
Accounts of the deal differ. ByteDance said on Monday that it will own 80 percent of TikTok Global, a newly created US company that will own most of the app's operations worldwide. Oracle and Walmart, which have agreed to take stakes in TikTok Global of 12.5 percent and 7.5 percent respectively, had said on Saturday that majority ownership of TikTok would be in American hands. ByteDance said in its statement on Monday that it was a "rumour" that US investors would be TikTok Global's majority owners. Oracle declined to comment on ByteDance's statement, while Walmart did not respond to a request for comment.
Some sources close to the deal have sought to reconcile the discrepancy by pointing out that 41 percent of ByteDance is owned by US investors, so by counting this indirect ownership TikTok Global would be majority owned by US parties. One of the sources said the deal with Oracle and Walmart values TikTok Global at more than $50 billion (roughly Rs. 3,66,825 crores).
TikTok also confirmed plans for an initial public offering of TikTok Global. The Beijing-based firm said TikTok Global's board of directors will include ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming as well as Walmart's chief executive Doug McMillon and current directors of ByteDance.
The current plan for TikTok Global does not involve any transfer of algorithms or technologies, and Oracle will be able to inspect TikTok US' source code, ByteDance said. This is akin to US companies such as Microsoft sharing their source code with Chinese technology experts, ByteDance added.
ByteDance also said a $5 billion (roughly Rs. 36,676 crores) payment reportedly to be made to the US Treasury by TikTok Global is based on estimated income and other taxes the company will need to pay over the next few years and has nothing to do with the deal reached with Oracle and Walmart. Trump last week had said there would be a $5 billion US education fund as part of the deal.
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