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Microsoft says its bid to buy TikTok rejected

Microsoft said Sunday night that the Chinese owner of social media app TikTok rejected their bid to take control of the firm's U.S. operations, leaving Oracle as the last publicly known remaining bidder. President Trump issued an executive order in August that directed ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, to sell off its U.S. arm or cease operations in the country within 90 days, citing national security issues.

"ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok's U.S. operations to Microsoft," Microsoft said in a statement. "We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok's users, while protecting national security interests."

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night that Oracle, founded by Trump ally Larry Ellison, had won the bid. Oracle is one of the few Silicon Valley firms willing to ally with Mr. Trump.

The deal falling through is likely to be a hit for tech giant Microsoft. The company's shares rose nearly 6%, or $11.53, in August when news of the possible acquisition was made public. That's a $95 billion boost to Microsoft, which has had a number of lackluster deals in recent years.

Mr. Trump's August 6 executive order banned transactions with the Beijing-based ByteDance or its subsidiaries. Mr. Trump also signed a similar order that same day targeting another social media and messaging app, WeChat, which is owned by Tencent Holdings, another Chinese company, charging that the app captures personal information belonging to Chinese nationals visiting the U.S., allowing the Chinese government to track them.

In an August 14 follow-up order, Mr. Trump ordered ByteDance to sell its U.S.-based TikTok assets within 90 days. TikTok filed a lawsuit on August 24 in California against the Trump administration, saying it is not a national security threat and the government is acting to "further the president's anti-China political campaign."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in July that the U.S. was "looking at" banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps. India has already banned TikTok.   

ByteDance has denied providing any help to the Chinese government. "TikTok U.S. user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access," a spokesperson said in a statement in August. "TikTok's biggest investors come from the U.S."

TikTok's U.S. revenue alone is expected to reach $500 million this year, according to The Information. That's 10 times the $50 million it generated in 2019, when the U.S. accounted for just 20% of its business, Barron's noted. 

The social media app, which allows users to share short videos, is particularly popular among young people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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