Microsoft Corp.’s talks with TikTok remain focused on buying the Chinese company’s operations in the U.S. and three other nations, people familiar with the discussions said, after the Financial Times reported that the software giant was pursuing the entire business.
Talks remain focused on the U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and the two sides haven’t expanded the scope of negotiations, the people said, asking not to be named revealing information that isn’t public.
On Sunday, Microsoft said it was in talks with ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese owner of TikTok, to buy part of the business in an effort to ward off a U.S. ban by President Donald Trump.
Microsoft and TikTok declined to comment on the FT report.
The U.S. government has threatened to block TikTok over concerns it gathers data on users that could be turned over to the Chinese government. Trump has said TikTok will have to close down in the U.S. by Sept. 15 unless a deal can be reached to sell the domestic assets to an American company. Microsoft has been the only firm to publicly declare it is in active discussions with ByteDance over TikTok.
Cleaving just the U.S. operations off a global app would be particularly challenging. The Financial Times said one reason Microsoft is considering buying the whole operation instead has to do with the difficulty of separating back-office functions and ensuring that people would still be able to use the app when traveling between countries.
One person familiar with the White House’s discussions of TikTok has said its global business would be worth about $50 billion, with its U.S. operations valued at less than that. Analysts and bankers have estimated the U.S. operations at $15 billion to $50 billion.