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Softbank is reportedly interested in buying TikTok’s India arm

tiktok, bytedance

Softbank is believed to be putting together a consortium of companies to bid for TikTok’s India operations and is actively looking for local partners, Bloomberg reported. Softbank, which already owns a stake in TikTok parent ByteDance, has reportedly held talks with the heads of Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. Reliance Jio’s name has popped up in multiple reports for its reported interest in buying TikTok’s India arm.

India was TikTok’s biggest market in terms of user base before it was banned in June, and since then, a number of domestic clones have been trying to fill the short-video sized hole that TikTok left. Even Instagram launched its TikTok competitor, Reels, in a bid to replace the popular short-video app, which had around 200 million users in India alone.

It appears as if Softbank really wants in on buying TikTok. In the US, it was understood to have partnered with Walmart and Alphabet to make a joint bid for TikTok’s acquisition in the US. This deal would reportedly have put Walmart as the lead buyer, with SoftBank and Alphabet acquiring minority stakes. However, the deal apparently fell through because the US administration reportedly wanted the lead buyer of TikTok to be a technology company so that user data could be stored in the US.

After the ban in India, the US placed an effective ban on TikTok through an executive order in early August and then ordered Bytedance to sell off its American assets within 90 days. Oracle and a group of Walmart and Microsoft have emerged as the likely frontrunners to acquire TikTok’s American business. Microsoft had previously said that it was interested in buying TikTok’s global operations as well.

TikTok’s CEO has quit: New suitors are emerging for buying TikTok, even as the company’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. It further said that the executive order failed to follow due process and act in good faith, neither providing evidence that TikTok was an actual threat, nor justification for its punitive actions. It had further cited its American senior management, including CEO Mayer, in the lawsuit to argue that as American citizens, they are not subject to Chinese law.

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