A deadline set by the Trump administration for the forced sale of TikTok’s US assets is expected to come and go on Friday night without a final deal, according to people familiar with the discussions.
While the deadline has been extended multiple times, it is not expected that TikTok will receive a new deadline, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision isn’t yet public. TikTok is still in talks with the US government about a sale that satisfies the Trump administration’s national security concerns, but Friday’s deadline will be overlooked while the discussions continue.
The fate of TikTok, which has been downloaded more than 100 million times in the US, has been caught up for months in President Donald Trump’s crackdown on Chinese technology companies and their influence in the US The administration has argued that American’s private data gathered through the app could be handed over to the authoritarian regime in China, something TikTok has said it would never do.
Trump had ordered in August that the app be sold to an American firm or face a ban in the US. But as the presidential election loomed in November and now with a new president-elect, TikTok seems to have slipped off the top of Trump’s agenda.
Trump gave his blessing in mid-September to a preliminary plan in which parent ByteDance would sell part of TikTok to Oracle, Walmart and US investors Sequoia Capital, KKR & Co and General Atlantic, creating a new independent company called TikTok Global. But that deal has been stuck in limbo for months, and was quickly overshadowed by the US election and rising Covid-19 cases.
ByteDance has said its proposal would put American companies and investors in charge of data and content moderation for US users, a key demand of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, a panel led by the treasury department. The treasury granted ByteDance its last extension a week ago because it said it needed time to review a revised submission.
China also will eventually need to give its blessing to the deal. State media has spoken out against Trump’s order, and a foreign ministry spokesman called it “bullying”.
TikTok has filed multiple challenges against the ban, which are winding their way through the courts, with deadlines in certain proceedings extending past January. Several judges have already blocked the ban from going into effect and the US commerce department said it would comply with those court rulings as the government appeals.
Those cases could lapse when President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January, unless he decides to enforce the Trump ban and defend the previous administration’s orders in court. — Reported by Shelly Banjo, Kurt Wagner and Jennifer Jacobs, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP