SoftBank Sets Eyes On TikTok India

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If you think that acquisition of TikTok India is now a two horse race, involving giants like Microsoft and Reliance Jio, you are highly mistaken.

TikTok’s acquisition is filled with twists turns and potholes. To add to the same, now SoftBank Group Corp has jumped into the scene but to acquire its assets in India!

According to some people in the know, the Japanese conglomerate headed by Masayoshi Son is currently looking for local partners quite actively to do the same.

SoftBank Corp Grop, which owns a stake in TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, over the past month has been in talks with executives from Reliance Jio as well as Bharti Airtel. 

Even though those discussions have fizzled out since then, the Japanese conglomerate is still exploring other options.

TikTok is currently looking forward to selling off its operations in multiple countries after local governments have strongly suggested that the app be shut down. This is mostly because the majority of the countries do not want their citizen’s sensitive user data to pass on to Chinese hands. 

In July, India took an incredibly tough stance against the TikTok’s origin county by banning 59 of China’s largest internet services which included the popular short-form video app as well.

The move was mostly fueled by the fact that less than a month ago from the date of the ban, 20 Indian soldiers died brutally in border clashes amid heightening anti-Chinese sentiments.

In the US, President Donald Trump under sudden overwhelming national security concerns has ordered ByteDance to sell-off TikTok’s US assets to an American company within mid-September, or else it will be banned.

For US operations, currently, Walmart has joined the bid led by Microsoft Corp while Oracle remains the only standalone bidder. There are other coalitions of investors as well but it hasn’t been revealed who exactly they are comprised of.

According to another source, a frequent adviser to the SoftBank Group Corp, Centricus Asset Management Ltd. has also entered the race by managing to team up with Triller Inc. in a bid for TikTok’s operations in the U.S. and several other countries for a whopping $20 billion.

Masayoshi Son, who spearheads SoftBank Corp, is no stranger to investing in India and has forged deep ties with local businesses in this country.

Some of the popular startups that his Japanese behemoth has funded are – Snapdeal which is an e-commerce marketplace, Ola the ride-hailing service and OYO the hotel-booking app.

In December 2019, SoftBank happened to pour a humongous amount of $275 million into Lenskart which is an eye-care provider and thus, in turn, minted the latest unicorn of the country.

The company, with Bharti Enterprises Pvt. and Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Co., has also been known to have invested in a solar power joint venture.

Besides aiming to bag the India assets for TikTok, Son is currently looking to sell or list Arm Ltd. which is a chip design firm that he bought for $32 billion about 4 years ago.

Now it remains to be seen how this situation develops further as India was one of TikTok’s largest markets with more than 200 million users. As of now, all the official representatives for SoftBank, ByteDance, Reliance and Bharti Airtel declined to comment tot his news. Thus, stay tuned to know more.


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