Walmart joins Microsoft’s bid to buy TikTok

Can two old companies run a young one?

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A man and child wearing facemasks walk in front of a Walmart store in Washington, DC on July 15, 2020. - Walmart will require shoppers to wear face masks starting next week, the US retail giant announced on July 15, joining an increasing number of businesses in mandating the protection amid the latest spike in coronavirus cases. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS via Getty Images

Walmart says it’s joining forces with Microsoft in an attempt to buy TikTok US, CNBC reports. Microsoft was one of the first companies named as a potential buyer for TikTok, though Twitter and Oracle have also explored deals.

“We believe a potential relationship with TikTok US in partnership with Microsoft could add this key functionality and provide Walmart with an important way for us to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses. We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of US TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of US government regulators,” Walmart said in a statement shared by CNBC.

TikTok is reportedly close to an agreement that would sell its US, Canada, Australian and New Zealand operations. That deal is valued in the $20 to $30 billion range, and a final announcement could be made in a matter of days.

Earlier this month, President Trump signed an executive order requiring the Chinese owner of TikTok to sell its US business in the next 90 days. But TikTok has pushed back. The company sued the US government, arguing that the executive order was signed “without any evidence to justify such an extreme action, and without any due process.” It’s unclear how that lawsuit might impact the potential deal with Microsoft — and now Walmart.

Update: A follow-up report from CNBC explains how the pairing came to be, and reveals that Google’s parent company Alphabet had been lined up as a minority owner with Walmart before the retailer teamed up with Microsoft. However, according to the report, that fell apart because the government wanted a tech company to lead the bid instead, to help justify its national security reasoning for forcing the sale. A decision between bids from the Microsoft consortium and one led by Oracle could come in the next 48 hours.

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