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Twitter reportedly emerges as potential TikTok suitor

Twitter has reportedly held talks with Chinese tech firm ByteDance to buy the US business of social media app TikTok.

A number of US firms are circling the app, with president Donald Trump threatening to ban the service should it fail to find a domestic buyer before September 21. The president said that the rapidly rising service “continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States” – a claim denied by ByteDance which is planning legal action against Trump.

Neither Twitter or TikTok has commented on the news, but it still remains to be seen whether the US company could actually afford a deal. Twitter has a market cap of US$29.38 billion, while TikTok is valued at more than US$50 billion. It is believed that Twitter would need to seek external assistance should any deal emerge.

This news comes days after Microsoft announced that it would discuss a potential acquisition, with a blog post from CEO Satya Nadella saying that “Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event complete these discussions no later than September 15, 2020.”

A report from the Financial Times said that Microsoft may look to not just buy the US business of TikTok, but the whole global operation.

Microsoft would likely face more regulatory scrutiny than Twitter, meaning that ByteDance may prefer a swift deal with the latter in order to remain active in the US.

However, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has come out against any potential acquisition, telling Wired that “ it’s a poison chalice”. He said that the app’s existence as an alternative to the dominant Facebook is “probably a good thing” but “having Trump kill off the only competitor is pretty bizarre.”