According to sources, SoftBank Group Corp. has recently been looking for local partners in a quest to assemble a group of bidders for the Indian assets of TikTok. The Indian government decided to put a ban on this app along with 59 others in the month of July. This was done as a safety measure after the Galwan Valley incident to protect private user data of the Indian netizens. Since then, TikTok has been planning to sell its operations in many countries.
SoftBank is a Japanese group that holds a small stake in ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese parent company of TikTok. Despite the small stake, they have been actively involved in negotiations regarding the selling operations of TikTok. It was reported, that they held talks with Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd. regarding this issue, however, as of now, the talks seemed to have led nowhere. The said companies are refusing to comment on this matter.
Prior to the implementation of the ban on TikTok, India was contributing as one of its largest markets by driving in 200 million plus users. President Donald Trump, US too initially threatened to implement a ban on TikTok. Later, in lieu of national security, he ordered ByteDance to sell its assets in the country.
In the US, SoftBank was able to bring in Walmart Inc. and Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. for bidding. However, the Trump administration was persistent in having the investments led by a US Tech company which is why the arrangement got disbanded. Later on, Microsoft Corp. led a bid that was joined by Walmart Inc., however, the current status of the bids is not clear.
Centricus Asset Management Ltd., SoftBank’s frequent advisor got together with Triller Inc. for a bid in the US for TikTok along with some other countries for $20 billion.
Masayoshi Son, founder of SoftBank has been known to invest in India for quite some time. He has backed up some Indian local start-ups such as Snapdeal.com, Ola Cabs, and Oyo Rooms. It was reported, that SoftBank invested about $275 million into Lenskart, an upcoming eye-care brand. In 2018, they sold the stakes to Flipkart Online Services Pvt Ltd. paving a way for Walmart to enter India. Moreover, Son’s company is in a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises Pvt. and Foxconn Technology Co. for solar power.