US President Donald Trump told Oracle chairman Larry Ellison and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon on Friday that he still wants the government to receive a payment as part of a deal for the US operations of the TikTok video-sharing app.
Trump spoke to the two men by phone as he weighed whether to approve the transaction with TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, according to people familiar with the matter.
Under the arrangement, Oracle and ByteDance would create a new company, TikTok Global, to resolve Trump administration concerns that the popular app is a national security threat because of its Chinese ownership.
While Trump has repeatedly expressed interest in the US government receiving a sizeable cash payment as part of the transaction, it remains unclear how that would be achieved.
Walmart, which had previously partnered with Microsoft to make an outright bid for TikTok’s US business, remains interested in investing as well, and could end up with a seat on the board of the new company, according to one of the people.
The people asked not to be identified because the conversations were private.
Separately, Democratic nominee Joe Biden assailed Trump for the timing of his interest in the app.
Joe Biden criticism
“It’s a matter of genuine concern that TikTok, a Chinese operation, has access to over 100 million young people, particularly in the US,” Biden told reporters in Duluth, Minnesota on Friday.
“What I always worry about though, is what Trump does and the way he does it on the eve of an election,” he said. “All of a sudden he’s decided he’s going to deal with TikTok, and he’s talking about how we have to make money off of it. I mean, what the hell is he talking about? Either it is a security risk or isn’t a security risk.”
Earlier on Friday, the Trump administration announced that it was banning TikTok, as well another Chinese platform, WeChat, from US mobile app stores. Trump has said the companies threaten national security because China could use them to mine user data or broadcast propaganda. — Reported by Jennifer Jacobs, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP