Washington had planned to ban downloading the app, accused of violating privacy rules, as of Sunday. But the creation of a new structure with Oracle and Walmart reassured the American authorities.
The popular TikTok application, threatened with ban in the United States in the name of national security, will be able to remain in the country: Donald Trump gave the green light on Saturday to a project involving Oracle and Walmart.
“I gave my approval to the deal. If they make it happen, so much the better. If not, that will be fine too, ”said the Republican president, before taking off for a campaign rally in North Carolina.
TikTok, a subsidiary of Chinese group ByteDance, confirmed shortly after preparing a plan to create a new company involving Oracle as a technology partner in the United States and Walmart as a business partner.
TikTok Under American banner
Called TikTok Global, it would be based in the United States and would hire 25,000 people, said Oracle and Walmart in a separate press release. Oracle could buy 12.5% stake in TikTok and Walmart 7.5% before a future listing on the New York Stock Exchange scheduled within a year.
ByteDance would keep the rest of the capital, said a source familiar with the matter. But the Chinese company being 40% owned by American investors, the majority of the application would ultimately pass under the American flag. Oracle, Walmart, and US investors in ByteDance will own about 53% of TikTok Global, according to a source cited by Reuters .
"We are pleased that the proposal by TikTok, Oracle and Walmart resolves the security concerns raised by the US administration and resolves questions regarding the future of TikTok in the United States," commented a spokesperson for the app. . If it materializes, such an outcome could make it possible to put out one of the many fires currently smoldering between Washington and Beijing, especially on the technological front.
Ultimatum to TikTok
It will also allow Americans to continue using this application, which is very popular with young people: "In view of recent positive developments", the Commerce Department has announced that it is deferring at least until September 27 the ban on downloading TikTok in the United States which was to come into force on Sunday .
The application, which makes it possible to broadcast short, often musical or humorous videos, has some 100 million users in the country. Without making any evidence public, the White House tenant has claimed for weeks that TikTok has been spying on Beijing's behalf.
In the name of national security, he had given his parent company ByteDance until Sunday to cede TikTok's activities on American soil to a company "made in the USA".
The American administration had specified Friday that it would prevent the downloading in the United States of TikTok, as well as that of WeChat, an application of the Chinese giant Tencent used for messaging, purchases, payments and other services. .
Trump promises total security
Donald Trump, who makes his pugnacity towards China a campaign argument less than 50 days before the presidential elections, estimated that with the agreement, "(TikTok's) security will be 100%".
Oracle would be in charge of hosting all US user data and the security of associated computer systems. Walmart for its part would provide its online sales, order management and payment services.
After the deal, TikTok Global is expected to pay "more than $ 5 billion in new taxes to the US Treasury" while the companies involved in the deal launch an initiative to expand online education, said. indicated Oracle and Walmart.
The president, who insisted that the government be paid for authorizing the deal, initially announced that the companies would "donate" $ 5 billion for education. On the Chinese social network Toutiao, Bytedance says it learned of this clause in the media, as Reuters points out . According to the agency, Oracle and Walmart have not confirmed such a sum either.
Sanctions that are moving away from TikTok?
China reacted strongly to threats to ban downloads from TikTok and WeChat by denouncing on Saturday the “intimidation” of the United States and by establishing a mechanism allowing it to restrict the activities of foreign companies.
Against a "list of untrusted entities" - whose names have not been made public - Beijing is planning potential sanctions ranging from fines to restriction of activities or entry of equipment and personnel into China.
"While tensions between the United States and China at all levels of the technology chain are far from resolved, the solution found to end the TikTok / ByteDance impasse and address the complex political implications represents a relief for tech investors, ”said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.
The project presented by TikTok on Saturday still needs to be finalized by the companies and approved by a US government national security committee, the Treasury Department said.