TikTok Sale May Need China's OK: Report

Official Chinese news service interview casts new uncertainty over possible deal.
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The U.S. companies looking to snap up TikTok may have another time bomb -- err, landmine -- to worry about: new Chinese regulations.

That's because Beijing has modified on Friday its rules on technology exports that could mean tech company ByteDance’s sale of its U.S. TikTok operations need a government OK, according to a Chinese media report out this weekend

Walmart  (WMT) - Get Report, Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Report, and Oracle  (ORCL) - Get Report have all expressed interest in buying the video-sharing app, but ByteDance would be compelled to "comply with approval procedures" under China's newest regulations guarding technologies, according to a report in Xinhua over the weekend.

“We are studying the new regulations that were released Friday. As with any cross-border transaction, we will follow the applicable laws, which in this case include those of the US and China,” Erich Andersen, ByteDance's general counsel, told TheStreet by email on Sunday.

Microsoft declined Sunday to comment on the news to TheStreet. The U.S. tech giant and Walmart recently announced a plan to team up to buy TikTok's U.S. operations. Oracle has also reportedly expressed interest. 

ByteDance's "cutting-edge technologies in artificial intelligence and other fields, and some technologies" may be included in the catalog of technologies restricted for export, Prof. Cui Fan at the University of International Business and Economics told Xinhua. Cui additionally suggested that ByteDance "carefully study" the revised catalogue of technologies.

The professor added that the company should "seriously and carefully consider whether it is necessary to suspend substantive negotiations on relevant transactions, comply with statutory application and reporting procedures, and then take further actions as appropriate." 

The news follows weeks of speculating over the future -- and future ownership -- of the popular video-sharing app. It also comes after months of controversial headlines for TikTok, which earlier this summer came under threats by President Donald Trump, who had promised to ban the app in the U.S.

This story has been updated.