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National Security & Defense

Chinese Firm ByteDance Would Retain Majority TikTok Stake in Deal with Oracle

A man walks past the Bytedance headquarters building in Beijing, China August 3, 2020. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

National security regulators are reviewing a proposal that would leave ByteDance, TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, with a majority ownership stake in the short-form social media app.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or Cfius, reviewed the deal that includes California- based tech firm Oracle’s bid to become TikTok’s U.S. technology partner late Tuesday afternoon but did not immediately announce a recommendation.

In an executive order last month, President Trump gave ByteDance 45 days to sell its U.S. TikTok operations or face a ban. In order to avoid President Trump’s ban, the deal must be settled by Sunday. 

In an effort to assuage national security concerns over the Chinese-owned app, the deal would make Oracle a “technology partner” of TikTok, while ByteDance would retain a majority ownership stake. TikTok’s global business would become a U.S.- based company that would remain a unit of ByteDance. Oracle would take a minority stake in that company, the Journal reported.

President Trump spoke with Oracle CEO Safra Catz about the company’s plans to overhaul the app’s U.S. operations on Tuesday, people familiar with the matter told the Journal, and said later that day that his administration would make a decision on the pending deal “pretty soon,” adding that he has “high respect” for Oracle chairman Larry Ellison.

“I heard they’re very close to a deal,” Mr. Trump said.

TikTok said Monday it believes its proposal “would resolve the Administration’s security concerns.”

The administration has labeled the app a security threat over concerns that data collected from U.S. consumers on the app could be shared with the Chinese Communist Party, though TikTok has said it would not share such data with the Chinese government.

While Peter Navarro, a trade adviser to the president, had pushed to ban the app, he expressed support for Oracle’s dealings with China in a Fox News interview last month, criticizing Microsoft’s deals in the Communist country while saying, “Oracle, on the other hand, has a strong reputation of really putting a great firewall between its operations in China.”

The deal would create an estimated 25,000 U.S.-based jobs, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

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