Update on September 1: It doesn’t look like the Triller will go through. TikTok in a statement said that “we are not and will not be in talks with them [Triller]”.
Earlier on August 31: Triller, a short video app rivaling TikTok, and Centricus Asset Management, a London-based investment firm are looking to buy TikTok’s assets in India, US, Australia, and New Zealand, Bloomberg reported. The two have reportedly already submitted their bid to TikTok parent ByteDance, in a deal made up of $10 billion in cash upfront and $10 billion in profit-sharing from the resulting venture. If the deal were to go through, Triller will pick up a minority stake in TikTok’s assets. Tiktok was banned in India on June 29.
It is interesting that the two are looking to purchase TikTok’s India business as well, especially because Triller recently announced a partnership with Reliance’s JioSaavn to offer Triller’s short videos within the JioSaavn app. Reliance Jio has also shown its interest in acquiring TikTok’s Indian operations, according to multiple reports. Incidentally, the value of Triller and Centricus’ bid is similar to what Oracle is reportedly planning to bid for TikTok’s operations. Walmart and Microsoft have also partnered to try and acquire the popular short video app’s operations in several markets.
Last week, TikTok’s CEO Kevin Mayer quit the company, following Trump’s orders of a ban on the app through two executive orders. On August 14, Trump signed an executive order directing ByteDance to divest from its American assets and its rights to any user data that TikTok gathered in the country, within 90 days. It also directed ByteDance to destroy any TikTok data of US users, and report to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) once all the data is destroyed. The sale of TikTok to a third party will also have to be vetted by CFIUS for all practical purposes.
Before that, on August 6, Trump had prohibited all US transactions with TikTok within 45 days. However, in response to this August 6 directive, TikTok sued the US government, calling the app ban “unconstitutional” and “political”. TikTok said that it had taken “extraordinary measures” to protect the privacy and security of TikTok’s US user data including storing such data outside of China, in the US and Singapore.
However, China is planning to make TikTok’s sale difficult by implementing new rules on AI technology exports, which proposed to prohibit Chinese technology companies from exporting technology including text analysis, voice recognition, and content suggestions without a license from the Chinese government.
As per Centricus Asset Management’s website, it was founded in 2016 and led the structuring and fundraising for SoftBank’s Vision Fund, which is worth $100 billion.