Trump signed an executive order on Aug. 14 giving ByteDance 90 days to sell TikTok, amid concerns that the personal data of as many as 100 million Americans that use the app could be passed on to China’s Communist Party government. On Saturday, he said he supported a deal in principle that would allow TikTok to continue to operate in the United States.
Accounts of the deal differ. ByteDance said on Monday that it will own 80% of TikTok Global, a newly created U.S. company that will own most of the app’s operations worldwide. Oracle and Walmart, which have agreed to take stakes in TikTok Global of 12.5% and 7.5% respectively, had said on Saturday that majority ownership of TikTok would be in American hands.
ByteDance said in its statement on Monday that it was a “rumor” that U.S. investors would be TikTok Global’s majority owners. Oracle declined to comment on ByteDance’s statement, while Walmart did not respond to a request for comment.
Some sources close to the deal have sought to reconcile the discrepancy by pointing out that 41% of ByteDance is owned by U.S. investors, so by counting this indirect ownership TikTok Global would be majority owned by U.S. parties. One of the sources said the deal with Oracle and Walmart values TikTok Global at more than $50 billion.
TikTok also confirmed plans for an initial public offering of TikTok Global. The Beijing-based firm said TikTok Global’s board of directors will include ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming as well as Walmart’s chief executive Doug McMillon and current directors of ByteDance.
The current plan for TikTok Global does not involve any transfer of algorithms or technologies, and Oracle will be able to inspect TikTok U.S.’s source code, ByteDance said. This is akin to U.S. companies such as Microsoft Corp sharing their source code with Chinese technology experts, ByteDance added.
ByteDance also said a $5 billion payment reportedly to be made to the U.S. Treasury by TikTok Global is based on estimated income and other taxes the company will need to pay over the next few years and has nothing to do with the deal reached with Oracle and Walmart. Trump last week had said there would be a $5 billion U.S. education fund as part of the deal. Reporting by Echo Wang in New York and Yingzhi Yang in Beijing; Additional reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco and Roxanne Liu and Se Young Lee in Beijing; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christopher Cushing