US retail giant Walmart said it will partner with Microsoft to bid for TikTok’s US operations.
Walmart told the BBC it believed a deal with the Chinese video-sharing app would help it expand its operations.
TikTok was given 90 days to sell its US arm to a US company or to face a ban in the country. Donald Trump claimed to share his user data with Beijing – he claims to deny.
Last Thursday the head of the company resigned in view of the impending ban.
Confirming that the company was pursuing a deal, a Walmart spokesperson told the BBC, “We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership will meet both the expectations of US TikTok users, while meeting the concerns of US government regulators.” .
Microsoft, which confirmed in early August that it was in talks with TikTok, told the BBC it “had nothing to share at this time.”
With Walmart, which owns British supermarket chain Asda, it will now go against other potential bidders, including US tech giant Oracle.
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According to reports, TikTok’s US operations could reach up to $ 30 billion (£ 22 billion) if a deal is reached.
Since its global launch in late 2018, Tiktok has attracted a huge following, especially among the under 25s.
The app allows its followers to create short videos, with the help of a large database of songs and a wide range of filters.
Data at risk?
However, the Trump administration has accused its owner, the Chinese internet company Bytedance, of being a threat to US national security.
It says the data the company collects from its 800 million users – 100 million of whom are said to be in the United States – is at risk of exploitation by the Chinese government.
The Indian government has also banned TikTok, along with dozens of other Chinese-made apps, claiming that they “covertly” broadcast user data.
Beijing has denied such claims, calling the US ban politically motivated.
ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming has been criticized for his decision to sell to a US company. But in a letter to his Chinese staff he said it was the only way to prevent the app from being removed in America.
It’s not the only Chinese-owned app to attract US authorities’ suspicions – the WeChat messaging app also faces a ban.