Why Microsoft leads in TikTok pursuit

Microsoft, TikTok parent ByteDance unlikely to pay Trump fee for deal approval: Gasparino

Sources tell FOX Business’ Charlie Gasparino that Microsoft has been discussing bringing in potential partners for its TikTok bid if it proceeds.

TikTok may have plenty of suitors but Microsoft may be the only tech giant able to proceed with the deal, FOX Business has learned.

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Companies including Facebook and Alphabet’s Google have kicked the tires on the popular and now controversial short video platform, and while each remains broadly interested in the app or at least competing with the app in some way, these companies may be shut out due to antitrust issues, legal sources tell FOX Business.

Facebook floated the idea with regulators and was discouraged from pursuing it further, people with direct knowledge tell FOX Business. Apple publicly confirmed Tuesday it’s not interested in buying the app.

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However, Microsoft remains one company that would likely pass regulatory muster and has the capital, about $136 billion in cash as of last quarter, to pay for the deal.

During Tuesday’s White House press briefing President Trump signaled Microsoft remains the best choice despite multiple companies expressing an interest in the acquisition.

“We’ve had other companies call us. Microsoft called me directly,” Trump said. “I don’t know where they are, it sounds like Microsoft is along the way of doing something. I don’t blame them.”

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The Trump administration is poised to make a ruling on whether the app is totally banned or can be bought by a U.S. suitor by Sept. 15.

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Sources have told FOX Business Microsoft has sought outside partners to help finance the massive deal, which could be valued anywhere from roughly $20 billion to $100 billion — a hefty price tag for an app with global reach. TikTok has 800 million users worldwide and 100 million in America alone.

Confirming talks between CEO Satya Nadella and Trump, Microsoft said Sunday it is prepared to continue discussions to purchase TikTok's U.S. operations until Sept. 15.

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"Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President's concerns," the company said in a statement. "It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury."

Microsoft also added that it would ensure that American TikTok users' private data would be "transferred to and remain" in the U.S.

The Trump administration has been weighing TikTok's fate since last year, launching an investigation into the short video company amid fears that its Bejing-based parent ByteDance shares customer information with the Communist Chinese government.

As first reported by FOX Business, ByteDance entered into talks about a month ago with Microsoft to buy TikTok's U.S. operations as a way to save the business from a decision by the administration that would prevent the popular app from being used by U.S. consumers.

Microsoft, Facebook and TikTok had no comment, while Google did not respond to a request for comment.

FOX Business was first to report Microsoft’s interest in the popular company as Trump considered a possible ban. TikTok, whose parent company is based in Beijing, allegedly shares user data with the Chinese Communist Party. TikTok denies the matter, arguing that its servers are located in Singapore and not China and that it will completely separate from its Chinese parent company.

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