ByteDance is in discussions over a US$2-billion financing round before listing some of its businesses in Hong Kong, people familiar with the matter said, as talks over a sale of TikTok to Oracle and Walmart stall.
The TikTok owner is in talks with a group of investors including Sequoia over funding that would boost its valuation to $180-billion, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a private deal. ByteDance could then start preparing some of its biggest assets including Douyin and Toutiao for an initial public offering in Hong Kong, the people said.
The terms of the funding round may still change as negotiations are ongoing, the people said. A representative for ByteDance declined to comment, while a representative for Sequoia didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
ByteDance, already the world’s most valuable start-up, is in the throes of fighting a Trump administration ban on TikTok in the US after the video service was labelled a national security threat. It’s now seeking US and Chinese government approvals for a deal to sell a stake in the app to Oracle and Walmart, though negotiations have bogged down during the elections and legal battle over the implementation of the ban.
That deal, which included a condition that TikTok debut within 12 months on a US exchange, has won Donald Trump’s initial nod as a way to keep alive a social media phenom that’s become the go-to repository of music videos for 100 million-plus Americans. ByteDance was seeking a valuation of $60-billion for the app, Bloomberg News reported in September.
ByteDance’s billionaire founder Zhang Yiming has been reluctant to relinquish control over an app he built into a genuine challenger to Google and Facebook.
TikTok emerged as a top target in Trump’s effort to crack down on China ahead of the US election. Tensions between Washington and Beijing escalated after his administration waged a campaign to contain the country’s technology ascendancy that’s also ensnared Tencent, now also fighting a similar executive order banning its WeChat super-app. — (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP