- TikTok parent ByteDance released a statement Monday about the app’s US deal with Oracle and Walmart that contradicted two statements made by the president.
- It asserted that Beijing-headquartered ByteDance will maintain 80% control of the newly formed TikTok Global despite Trump saying it would have “nothing to do with China.”
- The company also denied knowledge of the president’s claim that $5 billion would go to the US Treasury to set up an education fund.
- Oracle on Saturday announced that it would become a minority investor in TikTok, in an 11th-hour deal that ByteDance will be hoping allays US fears about the app’s threat to national security.
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TikTok may have got the White House greenlight for a US tie-up with Oracle and Walmart, but its parent firm ByteDance would like to check some of President Trump’s boasts about the deal.
In statements on Monday, ByteDance appeared to fact-check Trump, who on Saturday gave his “blessing” to the Oracle-Walmart deal.
ByteDance on Monday put out a press statement titled “clarifying groundless rumors about TikTok” (per Bloomberg’s translation).
Although ByteDance did not explicitly identify President Trump as the source of these “rumors,” it contradicted two statements from him about the deal.
1. “It will have nothing to do with China”
The president asserted on Saturday that the deal struck between Oracle, Walmart, and ByteDance would create a new company with no connection to China.
“It’ll be a brand new company. It will have nothing to do with any outside land, any outside country, it will have nothing to do with China,” Trump said.
While it is true that the deal will involve setting up a new entity called TikTok Global which will be headquartered in the US, ByteDance — which is based in Beijing — said it will retain an 80% stake in the company.
Oracle and Walmart will own up to 20% of the company, with Oracle designated as ByteDance’s “trusted technology provider” in the US and Walmart as a “commercial partner.”
In public statements, Oracle and Walmart have said TikTok Global will be an “independent American company,” and that four out of five board members will be US citizens.
2. No $5 billion for Trump’s ‘real history’ education fund
Trump told reporters on Saturday the companies involved in the deal had agreed to pay a $5 billion fee to the US Treasury which would be used to set up an education fund.
He repeated this claim later the same day at a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He told attendees he told the dealmakers: “Do me a favor, could you put up $5 billion into a fund for education, so we can educate people as to the real history of our country — the real history, not the fake history.”
In its statement on Monday, ByteDance said the $5 billion figure was not a one-off fee but an estimate of the income tax the company could potentially pay over several years.
“TikTok is confident in its future but the actual tax amount will have to be determined in accordance with the actual state of the business and American tax structures,” ByteDance said per Bloomberg’s translation. The company already contradicted news of the fee in a post on its domestic news platform Toutiao on Sunday, Reuters reported.
This isn’t the first time Trump has made claims about taking a slice of the Oracle-TikTok deal. The president asserted back in August that the US Treasury would get a “large percentage” of any sale price concerning TikTok, although he was not clear exactly which side of the deal the money should come from. Sources told The Financial Times last week that the final deal did not include any sort of cut for the Treasury.
Two sources told Bloomberg that Trump had told Oracle and Walmart’s CEOs that he wanted a cut to go to the US government on Friday. A ByteDance spokesperson said the company first learned about the supposed $5 billion fee from press reports.