Aug 27, 2020 - Economy

Microsoft working with Walmart on TikTok deal

Illustration of someone cutting a tag off of TikTok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Microsoft is working with Walmart on its efforts to buy TikTok's U.S. business from China's ByteDance, Axios has learned from multiple sources close to the process.

The state of play: The idea would be to help turn TikTok U.S. into more of an e-commerce app for creators and users, much like what TikTok parent company ByteDance does with a similar app in China.

  • The news was first reported by CNBC, which later said Walmart confirmed its participation.
  • The development comes just hours after former Disney executive Kevin Mayer resigned as CEO of TikTok and COO of ByteDance, with sources saying he'd been excluded by ByteDance from the takeover talks.
  • There is not yet a signed agreement between Microsoft and ByteDance, as the sides technically have until Sept. 15 to submit a deal proposal to the White House for approval.
  • Conversations continue to only center on TikTok's operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Between the lines: It's possible that Walmart also has had discussions with Oracle, which also continues to negotiate with ByteDance.

  • SoftBank Group is not involved in the Microsoft/Walmart effort, although the Japanese firm has made inquiries to ByteDance, per sources.

The bottom line: Walmart adds more financial firepower and e-commerce know-how to Microsoft's efforts. But Walmart also has a significant presence in China, which could complicate Microsoft and ByteDance's efforts to get a deal through the Trump administration.

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