President Donald Trump will order the blocking of new TikTok downloads this weekend, the Commerce Department said Friday, casting doubt on any plans to sell the video sharing app's U.S. assets to an American buyer.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said downloads of WeChat, the popular Chinese-language messaging app owned by Tencent Holdings on Sunday, as well, after both firms were named in the President's Executive order in August. Apple (AAPL) - Get Report and Google (GOOGL) - Get Report will also be asked to remove the two downloads from their respective U.S. app stores.
Oracle Corp. (ORCL) - Get Report has been the recent frontrunner in a deal to keep TikTok operating in its second-largest market, confirming plans earlier this week to be a "trusted technology partner" to ByteDance, TikTok's China-based owner, in a complicated proposal put to the U.S. Treasury Department.
“Today’s actions prove once again that President Trump will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party,” Ross said in a statement. “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”
Oracle shares were marked 0.2% lower in early trading following the Commerce Department statement to change hands at $60.04 each.
Rival short-video and messaging app providers, meanwhile, were on the rise, with Facebook Inc (FB) - Get Report jumping 1% to $257.40 each and Snap Inc. (SNAP) - Get Report gaining 0.2% to $24.34 each.
The fullest ban for TikTok, however, was pegged for November 12, "for the national security concerns posed by TikTok to be resolved", providing a longer window for Oracle and its consortium to get Presidential approval.
Trump told reporters in Washington earlier this week that Oracle's billionaire founder and chairman, Larry Ellison, was a 'terrific guy' while adding that he and his White House staff were 'very close to a deal' that would keep TikTok operating in its second-largest market while addressing national security concerns linked to its China-based owner, ByteDance.
The current proposal, which is being reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is lead by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, would reportedly see Oracle taking an investment in ByteDance's global operations, while serving as the 'trusted technology provider" for its U.S. business.