Microsoft has held talks to acquire TikTok, whose Chinese owner ByteDance faces mounting pressure from the US government to sell the video sharing app or risk being blacklisted in the country, said people briefed on the matter.
The approach to buy TikTok is at the early stages, and it is unclear whether Microsoft will succeed in taking it over, as the transaction faces multiple hurdles, said a person familiar with the negotiation.
Microsoft declined to comment, and TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he was considering “a couple of options” to address TikTok, including a ban. The Financial Times reported this month that the White House has considered placing ByteDance on the “entity list” which would effectively bar it from doing business with US companies.
Separately, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has been reviewing ByteDance’s 2017 purchase of Musical.ly, which paved the way for TikTok’s growth. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday he would make a recommendation to Mr Trump by the end of the week.
US investors led by General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital had been discussing a buyout of TikTok in which ByteDance would retain a minority stake. The investors have held discussions with the Treasury about whether the buyout would satisfy US concerns about the app, the FT reported.