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Is Bytedance trying to escape from USA ban by selling its majority stake in TikTok?

TikTok parent Bytedance is reportedly considering to reduce its stake in the short-video app. According to reports in The New York Times and The Information, the Chinese firm is planning to sell a majority stake to the existing investors and will retain a minority stake in the platform. The move is an effort to quell the possibility of a ban by the United States (US) government.

Bytedance is valued at $100 billion and its investors include global firms like KKR, Tiger Global, Softbank’s Vision Fund, Tiger Global, Sequoia and General Atlantic, among others. Most of these companies already have investments in both the US and India, and may help the company quell government’s concerns around Chinese spying.

The Donald Trump administration is considering to ban TikTok in the US. A Senate panel in the country had earlier approved a move to ban federal employees in the US from using TikTok. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had also told Fox News earlier that the government would consider banning TikTok.

India, of course has banned the app already, along with Vigo Video and Helo, two other apps owned by Bytedance. Both India and US have cited national security risks with TikTok, and the countries view Chinese apps as a possible mechanism for the Chinese governments to spy on their countries.

While Bytedance has rubbished any claims around its apps being a national security risk, there have been signs of the company distancing itself from China. TikTok had earlier pulled out of Hong Kong after a new law imposed on the country by China. Earlier reports have indicated that the company has also considered creating a new board for TikTok and establishing headquarters outside China.

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