Twitter is said to have expressed interest in buying Tiktok’s US operations, as the short-form video app continues to hold talks with Microsoft about a sale.
However it is far from certain that Twitter would be able to outbid Microsoft, and complete a deal within the 45-day deadline set by US President Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters over the weekend.
Microsoft remains the frontrunner in the bidding process, which is being negotiated with Tiktok’s Chinese parent firm Bytedance. The deal will involve selling off Tiktok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as it seeks to avoid a ban of the app on American shores.
Twitter has a market capitalisation of close to $30bn, almost as much as the valuation of Tiktok’s assets to be divested, and would need to raise additional capital to fund the deal, according to the sources.
Microsoft, on the other hand, had a market value of $1.61 trillion on Friday.
Trump on Friday issued executive orders against Tiktok and Chinese messaging app Wechat, banning US companies from working with the two apps after 15 September over security fears.
Tiktok has threatened to launch a legal challenge against the order, saying it would “pursue all remedies available” to “ensure the rule of law is not discarded”.
One of Twitter’s shareholders, US private equity giant Silver Lake, is interested in helping fund a potential deal, one of the sources added.
Twitter has also privately made a case that its bid would face less regulatory scrutiny than Microsoft’s, and will not face any pressure from China given that it is not active in that country, the sources said.
Trump has previously hinted that he would force Microsoft to divest from all of its Chinese operations should it take Tiktok on board. He has also said he expects the US Treasury to receive a “significant portion” of the proceeds from a sale, despite there being no precedent for such an arrangement.
Tiktok, Bytedance and Twitter all declined to comment.