Microsoft could soon be the proud owner of the U.S.-based part of TikTok, one of the most popular social media apps in the world. Ashley Stewart of Business Insider wrote on Friday that Microsoft could purchase a stake in China’s ByteDance.
ByteDance is expected to be ordered by President Donald Trump to divest itself of ownership of the software’s U.S. operations in the coming days. Stewart reported there are multiple sources saying Microsoft is the front runner to swoop in and snap up those shares.
Stewart said that none of the companies involved in the talks are commenting on the rumors at the moment. She pointed out that, of course, doesn’t mean there isn’t something in the works.
News of Microsoft’s potential involvement in the sale talks was first reported by Fox Business Network’s Charles Gasparino on Twitter. He wrote that several sources in the investment banking sector claimed there were several American companies that were already interested in the social media application. It wasn’t long after his first report that Gasparino was able to confirm Microsoft was at the forefront.
One issue in any deal is whether or not President Trump has the power to order a Chinese company to divest. It’s also not clear if he has the power to tell any U.S. company to sell its stake in any situation. Even if the president does arguably have the power to issue such an order, it’s unclear whether the firm would feel as though it had to follow the directive.
The U.S. government had previously said it was considering a number of different actions against TikTok. Those actions reportedly included banning its download and use in the U.S.completely. The Trump administration is considering taking what is said to be unprecedented action because of the application’s ties to the Chinese government. China has been accused of using the software to spy on those who use it.
The Business Insider report said it wasn’t immediately clear just how Microsoft might fit TikTok into its current portfolio. The firms’ biggest social media endeavor to this point has been LinkedIn. That site is aimed at working professionals and helping people find jobs.
One reason Microsoft might be considered a company that could take the lead on the acquisition is because it managed to skip the antitrust hearing that Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple executives took part in earlier this week.
Experts said Microsoft was absent because its focus is mostly on business customers. The focus reportedly allowed it to fly under the radar when it came to scrutiny that has followed its competitors for the past several years.