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The Wall Street Journal: TikTok, U.S. government discuss options to avoid outright sale

The Wall Street Journal

Sale could be more difficult if underlying technology isn’t transferred

The main concern for U.S. government officials involved in the talks has been the security of TikTok’s data.


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TikTok’s Chinese parent, ByteDance Ltd., is discussing with the U.S. government possible arrangements that would allow the popular video-sharing app to avoid a full sale of its U.S. operations, according to people familiar with the matter.

Discussions around such an option have risen in prominence since the Chinese government took steps that make a sale to a U.S. technology giant like Microsoft Corp.
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  more difficult, the people said. They take place against a fast-approaching deadline that President Donald Trump imposed for TikTok to agree to a sale of its U.S. operations or else be shut down, and as geopolitical wrangling over the app intensifies.

A number of options remain on the table, the situation is fluid and a sale is still a possibility, the people said. Even if there isn’t a full sale, the outcome would likely involve some sort of restructuring of TikTok, one of the people said. That could involve a deal in which TikTok takes on a U.S. technology partner that helps secure its data and potentially takes a minority stake.

The main concern for government officials involved in the talks has been the security of TikTok’s data and keeping it out of reach of the Chinese government, said people familiar with the negotiations. Trump has said repeatedly that he wants an American company to buy the operations, and it isn’t clear whether any alternative would satisfy his concerns. Where China stands is also a mystery.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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