Oracle’s Tiktok bid leaves US security concerns

Photographer: Holly Adams / Bloomberg

Oracle Corp’s bid for TikTok fell short of resolving concerns from Trump administration officials that the Chinese-owned video-sharing app posed a threat to US national security, according to people familiar with the matter.

President Donald Trump has the authority to sign an agreement, but his decision may be influenced by the continued concerns of national security officials. The agreement remains in place, with discussions continuing between administration officials and companies, people said, who asked not to be named because the talks are confidential.

Addressing those remaining issues could pave the way for US approval, the people said.

Officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, believe that after a possible transaction, the Chinese owner of Tiktok, ByteDance Limited can still access user data from its nearly 100 million users in the US, people said. Officials remain cautious about the proposed new ownership structure and how much impact the company will have on China.

Treasury Secretary Steven Menuchin has reviewed the proposed deal. According to a Justice Department official, Attorney General William Barr was informed of the deal on Wednesday and is under review. The bar spoke to Oracle officials on Wednesday morning, two people familiar with the situation said. Pompeo spoke to company officials last week.

Tickcock has emerged as a top target in Trump’s attempt to overtake China in the November 3 election. The president is outpacing his Democratic rival Joe Biden in the elections and is demanding voters use their strict stance with Beijing as a selling point.

The Treasury, State, and Justice Departments are all part of the Committee for Foreign Investment in the US, or the Cfius, which conducts reviews for national security implications. In a meeting on Tuesday afternoon, officials expressed concern about a deal that would leave most of Tiktok’s American assets in the hands of ByteDance, in which Oracle takes a minority stake, the people said.

According to one of the people, the panel is expected to meet again on Wednesday to discuss the potential sale.

White House press secretary Kayle McNee said a decision on Tiktok is coming in “short order” during a conversation with reporters.

“We care deeply about protecting the data and security of American citizens.”

Treasury and state spokespersons declined to comment. The Justice Department official did not immediately respond to a question whether the Attorney General had spoken to Oracle.

– assisted by Chris Stroke