ByteDance, U.S. government talking about avoiding full sale of TikTok


TikTok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

ByteDance is speaking with the U.S. government about possible solutions that may allow it to retain some ownership of the U.S. operations of TikTok, while satisfying regulators in both China and the U.S. Those possibilities include handing over operational control of TikTok data to a U.S. tech company, while potentially still holding on to some ownership of assets, a person familiar with the process told CNBC.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported Wednesday that ByteDance was working with the U.S. government on ways to avoid a full sale.  The discussions have been taking place for months, the Journal reported, and the situation remains remains fluid. It’s still unclear if the Trump administration will be willing to go along with such a solution.

The White House previously set a deadline of Sept. 20 for the Chinese-owned company to announce a plan to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to a U.S. corporation, or face a shutdown in the United States by Sept. 29. Any such deal would have to be completed by Nov. 12.

The company had been negotiating to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to Microsoft in partnership with Walmart, or Oracle. A deal was close to completion, prompting CEO Kevin Mayer to announce his resignation. 

However, the sale hit a snag after Chinese officials introduced new restrictions on technology exports that could require Chinese approval for TikTok to sell its algorithm, which is part of the core value of the app.

CNBC’s Julia Boorstin contributed to this report. 

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