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Oracle, ByteDance issue conflicting reports on TikTok ownership

Oracle, ByteDance issue conflicting reports on TikTok ownership

Divergent positions could scuttle the deal as US ban looms

The partial sale of TikTok to Oracle and Walmart hangs in the balance as conflicting reports from Oracle and ByteDance added a new layer of confusion to an already complicated arrangement.

Oracle announced on Monday TikTok’s parent company ByteDance would completely divest its stake in the newly created TikTok Global. Oracle and Walmart had agreed to buy 12.5 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively in TikTok Global.

“Upon creation of TikTok Global, Oracle/Walmart will make their investment and the TikTok Global shares will be distributed to their owners, Americans will be the majority and ByteDance will have no ownership in TikTok Global,” Oracle said in a statement to the media.

However, ByteDance maintained, through a statement of its own on Monday, that it will own 80 per cent of TikTok Global, the newly created entity that will own most of the app’s operations worldwide. ByteDance added that TikTok Global will become its subsidiary.

It’s unclear how the supposed partners, and the US government, can reconcile these two positions.

The Trump administration has threatened to ban the video-sharing app from US networks, citing data security concerns. ByteDance had until September 20 to agree to a deal that will see it cede control over its US operations. The deadline was extended after the Oracle/Walmart deal became public.

Read: Oracle to acquire 12.5% stake in TikTok Global

The current deal however does not involve any transfer of TikTok algorithms or technologies, and Oracle will just be able to inspect TikTok U.S.’s source code. Oracle’s data centres would also take up the hosting of TikTok data in the US.

To add to the confusion, the Chinese state-backed newspaper Global Times said in an editorial on Monday that Beijing is unlikely to approve an “unfair” deal between ByteDance on one hand and Oracle and Walmart on the other.

“It is clear that these articles (terms) extensively show Washington’s bullying style and hooligan logic. They hurt China’s national security, interests and dignity,” said the English version of the editorial published late on Monday and which was also carried in the newspaper’s Chinese edition and reported by Reuters.

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