ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of wildly popular TikTok, has offered to sell the app’s United States’ operations as a way to avert a ban by the government of President Donald Trump, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
After weeks of rumours and pressure, Trump said on Friday he was preparing to bar the app from operating in the US, perhaps by executive order on Saturday.
Earlier, media reports had suggested Trump would require that the US operations of the app be divested from ByteDance, but he instead announced a ban.
But the Times report, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter, goes further to say that ByteDance has offered to do so.
The proposed divestment would not necessarily affect TikTok’s operations outside the US, the report said.
TikTok, especially popular with young audiences who create and watch its short-form videos, has an estimated one billion users worldwide.
But US officials have raised concerns that it could be used as a tool for Chinese intelligence — a claim the firm has repeatedly denied.
“While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok,” the company said when asked for comment on the Times report.
Some reports have indicated that Microsoft is in advanced talks to buy TikTok.
ByteDance was valued at as much as $140 billion earlier this year when one of its shareholders, Cheetah Mobile, sold a small stake in a private deal, Reuters has reported. The startup’s investors include Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.
The bulk of ByteDance’s revenue comes from advertising on apps under its Chinese operations including Douyin — a Chinese version of TikTok — and news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao, as well as video-streaming app Xigua and Pipixia, an app for jokes and humorous videos.
Some of the company’s other overseas apps include work collaboration tool Lark and music streaming app Resso.
TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer, a former Walt Disney Co executive, said in a blog post on Wednesday that the company was committed to following US laws, and was allowing experts to observe its moderation policies and examine the code that drives its algorithms.