Walmart Joining Microsoft in TikTok Bid

SAN FRANCISCO — The race to buy TikTok took another turn on Thursday when Walmart said it was teaming up with Microsoft on a potential bid for the popular Chinese-owned video app.

The discussions are ongoing and other suitors are involved, said two people close to the deal talks, who were not authorized to speak publicly. It is unclear which companies will ultimately secure a deal, though TikTok will likely make a decision in the coming days, they said.

In a statement, Walmart said, “We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of U.S. TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of U.S. government regulators.”

TikTok declined to comment and Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment. CNBC earlier reported Walmart’s participation.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese internet company ByteDance, has been ordered by the White House to sell its U.S. operations by mid-September. That has pushed ByteDance and TikTok to seek a buyer, in what could amount to a blockbuster deal.

Microsoft has been talking with TikTok and ByteDance for weeks about a potential acquisition, people with knowledge of the talks have said. They initially discussed Microsoft taking just a minority stake in TikTok, before the scope of a deal ballooned. Since then, the enterprise software maker Oracle, along with other bidders, have also joined the talks.

Prices for a potential deal have ranged from $20 billion to $50 billion, the people with knowledge of the talks have said. But talks are fluid and the situation has been shifting quickly.

Microsoft, with $137 billion in cash and a market value of more than $1.7 trillion, is far larger than other potential acquirers and has the deepest resources.

Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in a note to investors that the participation of Walmart was likely “the final piece of the puzzle that ultimately cements Microsoft successfully acquiring TikTok’s U.S. operations for likely $35 billion to $40 billion.”

Late on Wednesday, Kevin Mayer, TikTok’s chief executive, said he was resigning from the company after the app had dealt with months of pressure from the Trump administration. In a note to employees, he indicated that a deal for TikTok might be close. “We expect to reach a resolution very soon,” he wrote.

Zhang Yiming, ByteDance’s chief executive, said in his own note ByteDance and TikTok were moving swiftly to resolve its issues in the United States and India, where the app was banned in June.

“I cannot get into details at this point, but I can assure you that we are developing solutions that will be in the interest of users, creators, partners and employees,” Mr. Zhang said.

Michael Corkery contributed reporting.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


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