Microsoft has confirmed that it is still engaging with ByteDance to acquire TikTok’s assets in the United States. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says that they will pursue discussion in a matter of weeks and expect to complete the discussion no later than September 15, 2020.
Microsoft says that the acquisition follows a notification made by both Microsoft and ByteDance to the committee of foreign investment in the United States. The notice contained a preliminary proposal that would involve a purchase of the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Microsoft will own and operate TikTok in these markets should the deal sail through and may invite other American investors to participate on a minority basis in this purchase.
Microsoft will revamp the security features to improve TikTok’s privacy and digital safety protections. Furthermore, the firm reassures American users that all private data on TikTok will be transferred and remains in the US. There will be transparency to users as well as appropriate security oversight by governments.
However, Microsoft cautioned that the discussions were preliminary and there is no assurance that a transaction may materialize.
The proposed sale threatens to spark the US-China tensions that have seen the two nations impose economic sanctions and close consulates in some cities.
On Monday, President Trump gave the go ahead for Microsoft to pursue the acquisition threatening to shut down TikTok on September 15 unless Microsoft or any other company purchased it. The Trump administration accuses TikTok of providing data to the Chinese authorities.
China has decried the forced move to sell TikTok saying it will not accept theft of one of its technological companies. TikTok is the second technology firm from China to be flagged by US authorities for security concerns after Huawei technologies.
On Monday, China’s ministry of foreign affairs says the latest attack violates the World Trade Organisation’s principles of openness, transparency, and non-discrimination.