Microsoft, Walmart submit joint TikTok bid, vying with Oracle

The departure Wednesday of TikTok’s Chief Executive, after only three months on the job, suggests a deal is imminent.

The White House has been pushing for a sale of TikTok’s US operations due to concerns over its ties to China and implications for national security [File: Bloomberg]

Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp. have submitted bids to China’s ByteDance Ltd. to buy the U.S. operations of its TikTok app in a deal that could come within the week, according to people familiar with the deliberations.
Microsoft’s bid includes a partnership with Walmart Inc., which confirmed its participation on Thursday.

Competing offers have been made in what augurs the closing process of a deal, although it will take longer for final details to be worked out, one person said, requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.

TikTok and Microsoft declined to comment. Oracle didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Walmart confirmed in an email that it is in “partnership” with Microsoft in its pursuit of TikTok, a move to bolster the retailer’s third-party marketplace and nascent advertising arm.

The White House has been pushing for a sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations due to concerns over its ties to China and implications for national security. Microsoft had emerged as the top contender to buy the company, announcing in a blog post earlier this month that it was in talks to buy TikTok’s business in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Shortly afterward, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order with a mid-September deadline for TikTok to be sold to an American company or prohibit U.S. people and companies from doing business with TikTok. The announcement set off a flurry of interest from other companies. A later order required ByteDance to sell TikTok’s U.S. assets within 90 days. It’s not clear whether other parties have entered the process or plan to bid.

The departure Wednesday of TikTok Chief Executive Kevin Mayer, after only three months at the company, suggests a deal is imminent.

“As we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company,” he wrote in a note to employees.

Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro, who has come out against a potential sale to Microsoft and advocated banning TikTok completely, has been at odds with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who wants the app sold, according to a person familiar with the deliberations within the White House. A Treasury spokeswoman declined to comment.

Mnuchin has since come around to support a TikTok purchase by Oracle, this person said, declining to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Oracle has proposed a deal of $20 billion in cash and stock, according to a report in Hollywood publication The Wrap. Oracle’s offer would be made up of $10 billion in cash and $10 billion in Oracle stock plus 50% of annual TikTok profit would flow back to ByteDance for two years, one unidentified person told The Wrap.

Analysts and bankers have pegged the value of TikTok’s U.S. business anywhere from $20 billion to $50 billion, a wide range that reflects the complexity involved in separating TikTok’s American and global businesses, in determining a reliable number of users, and how revenue breaks out just for the markets at stake in the deal.

Source: Bloomberg