Oracle Surges As TikTok Rejects Microsoft Ahead of U.S. Sale Deadline

Cloud and software specialists Oracle could be in the driver's seat to acquire the valuable U.S. assets of China's video-sharing sensation, TikTok, but any deal needs approval in both Washington and Beijing by the beginning of next week.
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Oracle Corp.  (ORCL) - Get Report shares surged in pre-market trading Monday after the software group appeared to emerge as the preferred buyer of TikTok's U.S. assets.

However, multiple media reports suggest the deal, which still needs the approval of both the U.S. and Chinese governments, will be structured as a partnership rather than an outright sale, a move that might complicate efforts to meet a September 20 deadline put forward by President Donald Trump last month.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin seemed to suggest that Oracle is indeed the new front-runner when he told CNBC Monday that the deal will be reviewed by the White House later this week.

ByteDance, TikTok's China-based parent, rejected a competing offer from Microsoft Corp.  (MSFT) - Get Report. earlier Sunday, paving the way for an Oracle-led consortium to pick up the U.S. assets, both Bloomberg and Reuters have reported. 

Walmart  (WMT) - Get Report and Microsoft were considered front-runners for the TikTok franchise, after the world's largest retailer joined the tech giant's pursuit in late August, just days after software group Oracle indicated it was also interested in the valuable American operations. 

However, both President Trump, who ordered the sale of TikTok's U.S. business last month under the guise of national security concerns, and the Chinese government need to approve the sale by September 20. If that deadline passes, Trump told reporters over the weekend, TikTok will cease to operate in its second-largest market.

"ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft. We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests, Microsoft said in a statement Sunday. "To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combatting disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement." 

Oracle shares were marked 7% higher in pre-market trading Monday to indicate an opening bell price of $61.00 each, a move that would extend the stock's year-to-date gain to around 15.2%. 

Microsoft shares, meanwhile, were seen 0.2% lower at $203.60 while Walmart drifted 0.5% lower to $136.02 each.

"Walmart continues to have an interest in a TikTok investment and continues discussions with ByteDance leadership and other interested parties," the company said in a late Sunday statement. "We know that any approved deal must satisfy all regulatory and national security concerns." 

President Trump issued a pair of Executive Orders in early August that barred "U.S. transactions" with China-based social media apps WeChat and TikTok, citing "significant risks" to personal data and digital security.

Trump has said the app , which has been downloaded over 175 million times in the United States alone and has 1 billion global users, will be banned in the U.S. if it's not sold by September 20.

TikTok's fate was also a factor in the surprise resignation of U.S. CEO Kevin Mayer, a former Disney DIS executive, who left the group earlier this week after only three months at the helm.