Update (1130ET): In yet another fundamentally meaningless report on negotiations between ByteDance, its investors, Oracle, Wal-Mart and the Trump Administration, Bloomberg reports that TikTok and Oracle have both “accepted” a new “term shee” that “addresses national security concerns.”
The Treasury Department, TikTok owner Bytedance Ltd. and Oracle Corp. have tentatively agreed to terms for Oracle’s bid for the U.S. operations of the social-media service, according to people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reports.
Treasury sent Bytedance a revised terms sheet late Wednesday and the company and Oracle accepted it, the people said. They described the changes as addressing national security concerns about the transaction and asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Earlier, ByteDance said the deal wouldn’t involve selling or turning over any of its key technology to Oracle or the US. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is said to be pulling for the deal, though President Trump is presently being persuaded by the China hawks in his administration.
We wonder: will the deal include an agreement to pay some kind of dividend to the Treasury, as Trump once complained about wanting to do.
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With a presidential briefing scheduled for Thursday, President Trump is expected to make his final decision on the deal to spin off TikTok into an independent US-based company within 24-36 hours, which would leave another 36 hours of ‘wiggle room’ before the Sept. 20 deadline set by the administration – a deadline that Trump has insisted on keeping.
Following the latest round of lobbying by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a small but growing group of GOP senators, a new batch of details about the deal, and the breakdown of various ownership stakes, has been leaked to CNBC.
As was first reported days ago, Walmart is also expected to partner with Oracle in the deal; the size of WMT’s stake isn’t clear, but CNBC said Oracle’s is roughly 20%.
President Donald Trump is expected to make a decision on TikTok’s fate in the U.S. in the next 24-36 hours, sources told CNBC’s David Faber. Walmart is also expected to partner with Oracle in a deal where Oracle would own roughly 20% of the social media app, according to the sources.
Trump has been meeting with cabinet members and other advisers as he decides whether or not to approve the deal, according to others familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the talks are private.
Trump said Wednesday he objected to the idea that ByteDance would retain a majority stake in TikTok’s U.S. operations. Still, people familiar with the matter say the ownership stake percentages haven’t been a topic of negotiation and are unlikely to change. Walmart chief executive officer Doug McMillon is expected to have a board seat on the newly formed board of directors for TikTok’s U.S. operations. Walmart didn’t immediately respond for comment.
“From the standpoint of ByteDance we don’t like that,” Trump said of the Chinese company retaining a majority stake in the business during a press conference yesterday. “I mean, just conceptually I can tell you I don’t like
Faber said he’s reasonably confident that Wal-Mart is involved in the deal in some way.
“I’m pretty confident that Walmart has rolled in in some fashion to this deal,” he said
He went on to explain that Oracle would also secure a new deal as TikTok’s “web hoster”.
We’ve previously noted that the joint venture structure being championed by the Trump Administration is similar to the forced joint ventures American firms encounter when they enter the Chinese market.
A revised deal that would spin off TikTok as an independent, US-headquartered company was first revealed earlier this week. However, ByteDance’s insistence on retaining majority Chinese ownership (roughly 40% of the company is owned by US investors, mostly VCs, but the majority control still rests mostly with employees and BD founder Zhang Yiming, who personally owns more than 20% of the company.
This has become a point of friction, since Beijing recently imposed new rules requiring BD to obtain the CCP’s blessing before selling TikTok’s algorithm to a US buyer. It’s not really clear whether China might step in at the last minute to sabotage this deal. At this rate, they may not need to, since China Hawks within Trump’s own administration appear intent on killing the deal, and forcing a shutdown of the trendy social media app, which boasts some 100 million American users.