Donald Trump says the govt should get a cut from the sale of TikTok’s US unit if an American firm buys it.
The US president said he made a requirement for a “substantial portion” of the acquisition price during a call at the weekend with Microsoft’s boss.
He also warned he will ban the app, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, on 15 September if there’s no deal.
ByteDance is struggling to sell its US business after Mr Trump threatened a crackdown on Chinese tech companies.
The Trump administration has accused TikTok et al. of providing data to the Chinese government, which Beijing and TikTok deny.
“The us should get a really large percentage of that price, because we’re making it possible,” Mr Trump said.
“It would come from the sale, which nobody else would be brooding about but me, but that is the way i feel , and that i think it’s extremely fair,” he added.
The request for payment to the US Treasury further complicated negotiations as legal experts highlighted that such a requirement to secure regulatory approval for a takeover deal would be highly unorthodox.
Nicholas Klein, a lawyer at DLA Piper, said generally “the government doesn’t have the authority to require a cut of a personal deal through” the Committee on Foreign Investment within the us , which is that the inter-agency committee that reviews some foreign investments within the US.
The state-run China Daily newspaper said on Tuesday that Beijing wouldn’t accept the “theft” of a Chinese technology company.
It also warned in an article that China had “plenty of the way to reply if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab”.
Charlotte Jee, a reporter at MIT Technology Review, a magazine owned by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Mr Trump’s comments were “pretty astonishing”.
Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, she said: “I hate to mention this but it’s quite almost Mafia-like behaviour – threatening a ban which pushes down the worth then saying ‘oh we should always get a cut of that deal afterwards to mention many thanks for what we’ve done there’.
“It is extraordinary behaviour also because last week we had lawmakers within the US trying to seem at whether tech companies are too big and now we have got Trump trying to form one among them even bigger so it’s a very , really bizarre situation to be in.”
Talks over a possible deal looked to possess been derailed on Friday when Mr Trump said he opposed Microsoft buying TikTok’s US business.
While Mr Trump now giving his approval to a possible takeover may be a major shift within the White House’s position, the tight deadline for talks is another major hurdle for any potential deal.
TikTok’s US operations “will close on September 15 unless Microsoft or somebody else is in a position to shop for it and compute a deal, an appropriate deal therefore the Treasury… of the us gets tons of cash ,” he said.
As well as TikTok’s US business, Microsoft is additionally in talks to shop for its operations in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – countries that structure four of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.
The UK is additionally a member of the alliance and there has been speculation that TikTok could base its global headquarters in London, joining tech giants like Google which features a major presence within the capital.
ByteDance said: “ByteDance is committed to being a worldwide company. In light of the present situation, ByteDance has been evaluating the likelihood of building TikTok’s headquarters outside of the US, to raised serve our global users.”
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro suggested that Microsoft could shed its holdings in China if it buys TikTok’s US business.
“So the question is, is Microsoft getting to be compromised?” Mr Navarro said in an interview with CNN. “Maybe Microsoft could divest its Chinese holdings?”
Microsoft confirmed on Sunday during a blog post that it might continue discussions on a possible affect TikTok after a call between its chief executive Satya Nadella and Mr Trump.
The technology giant declined to comment further on the conversation between Mr Trump and Mr Nadella beyond the blog.
At the weekend, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Trump would take action “in the approaching days” against Chinese-owned software companies that he believed posed a national security risk.
Mr Pompeo told Fox News that TikTok was among those “feeding data on to the Chinese Communist Party”.
However, he didn’t offer any evidence to copy his claim.
Source: bbc news