Masayoshi Son-Led SoftBank Scouting For Partners In A Bid To Acquire Indian Operations Of TikTok: Report

Masayoshi Son-Led SoftBank Scouting For Partners In A Bid To Acquire Indian Operations Of TikTok: Report

by Swarajya Staff - Friday, September 4, 2020 02:36 PM IST
Masayoshi Son-Led SoftBank Scouting For Partners In A Bid To Acquire Indian Operations Of TikTok: ReportSoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group is attempting to assemble a group of potential partners for acquiring TikTok’s India assets, Bloomberg reported.

According to the report, Softbank, which owns a minor stake in TikTok’s Chinese parent ByteDance, has held talks with the heads of Reliance Jio Infocomm and Bharti Airtel though the negotiation are said to have not progressed.

It was first reported in 2018 that the $100 billion fund managed by SoftBank Group has invested in the operator of China's video sharing app TikTok. The exact date of the transaction was not specified.

While confirming that it group’s Vision Fund did make an investment in the Chinese startup, SoftBank declined to comment on the amount and timing of the investment.

In June this year, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, WeChat and UC Browser and Xiaomi’s Mi Community over national security concerns amid the border tussle at Ladakh which also led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley clash with Chinese PLA troops. The government directed the 59 banned Chinese apps to strictly adhere to the orders or face serious action in case of violation.

India was one of TikTok’s largest markets, with more than 200 million users.

On Aug 6, US President Donald Trump ordered ByteDance to divest the US operations of its video-sharing app TikTok within 90 days. The presidential order stated that data collection by the company threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.

Despite holding only a minor stake in ByteDance, SoftBank has played an active role in securing a suitor for the beleaguered video app.

The Japanese conglomerate brought in Walmart as the main investor in a group of bidders that also included Google parent Alphabet. But the consortium fell apart after the Trump administration reportedely insisted that it wants TikTok’s U.S. operations to be owned by an American company with deep tech expertise.

Walmart later announced that it is partnering with frontrunner Microsoft in its bid for the US operation of TikTok, the popular Chinese video-sharing application.

Also in the race to acquire TikTok is Larry Ellison led enterprise software giant Oracle. The company held preliminary talks with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance. Oracle bidding it jointly with venture capital firms including General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital who already have a stake in the Chinese firm. Oracle is said to be preparing a bid for Canada, Australia and New Zealand operations of TikTok.

Microsoft-Walmart joint bid comes within a day of resignation of TikTok’s chief executive Kevin Mayer. Meyer who joined TikTok from Walt Disney three months ago, cited the sharp change in political environment as the reason for leaving his job.

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