China throws up a hurdle for American takeover of TikTok

The acquisition of the American branch of social media app TikTok is in jeopardy. Rumours have been circulating for weeks that a takeover is in the making, but at the last minute the Chinese government has included in export regulations that such a takeover by a foreign company is not allowed without Beijing’s consent

The Chinese government already has such export regulations for other products made in China. The list was completed on Friday, so that “personalized information services using data analysis” are now also covered by the rules. And that also means TikTok’s recommendation algorithm. Companies covered by the rules must have a government license if they want to export their services.

Sell

The parent company of TikTok wants to sell the US branch, because the US government is about to ban the app in the US, as long as it is owned by a Chinese company.

Candidates for the takeover include Microsoft, supermarket chain Walmart and software developer Oracle with a group of investors. The expectation was that the deal would come through this week, but that no longer seems feasible. The New York Times writes that the new Chinese rules deter potential buyers.

Also Dutch TikTok users

TikTok will be banned in the US on September 15, unless a US buyer has been found. From that moment on, the app may no longer be found in Apple’s and Google’s app stores. This means that the app will no longer be available to Dutch TikTok users.

It’s not the first time the Chinese government has used regulations to delay a company takeover. In 2018, a takeover of Dutch chipmaker NXP by the American company Qualcomm did not go ahead, after the Chinese competition authority did not give the green light for the takeover in time. The deal was worth some 52 billion euros.