NEW YORK • Twitter has approached TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance to express interest in acquiring the US operations of the video-sharing app, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters, as experts raised doubts over the social media platform’s ability to put together financing for a potential deal.
It is far from certain that Twitter could outbid Microsoft and complete such a transformative deal in the 45 days that US President Donald Trump has given ByteDance to agree to a sale, the sources said last Saturday.
The news of Twitter and TikTok being in preliminary talks and Microsoft still being seen as the front runner in bidding for the app’s US operations was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.
Twitter has a market capitalisation of close to US$30 billion (S$41 billion), almost as much as the valuation of TikTok’s assets to be divested, and would need to raise additional capital to fund the deal, according to the sources.
“Twitter will have a hard time putting together enough financing to acquire even the US operations of TikTok. It doesn’t have enough borrowing capacity,” said Professor Erik Gordon at the University of Michigan.
He added: “If it (Twitter) tries to put together an investor group, the terms will be tough. Twitter’s own shareholders might prefer that management focus on its existing business.”
One of Twitter’s shareholders, private equity firm Silver Lake, is interested in helping fund a potential deal, one of the sources added.
Twitter has also privately made a case that its bid would face less regulatory scrutiny than Microsoft’s, and will not face any pressure from China, given that it is not active in that country, the sources said.
Microsoft said it was aiming to conclude negotiations for a deal by the middle of next month.