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TikTok Has Another Suitor: Centricus Teams Up With Triller for $20 Billion Bid

Offer adds to a growing list of companies vying for the wildly-popular video app

Centricus Asset Management is pushing to acquire TikTok’s assets in the U.S. and other markets for $20 billion, a person with knowledge of the bid told TheWrap on Friday afternoon. The investment firm’s goal is to form a joint venture between TikTok and Triller, the music-focused social media app, which would also take a minority stake in the new venture.

Bloomberg was the first outlet to report the news.

The $20 billion offer — which would include $10 billion in cash and $10 billion in profit splitting — would also include TikTok’s assets in India, Australia and New Zealand. The bid adds to a growing list of companies vying to buy TikTok’s U.S. assets, with Microsoft and Oracle both viewed as the favorites to strike a deal. As TheWrap reported earlier this week, Oracle has put together a bid worth more than $20 billion.

Triller declined to comment when reached by TheWrap. London-based Centricus did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Earlier this month, President Trump signed an executive order that gives Bytedance, TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, 90 days to offload the app’s U.S. assets. The president pointed to “credible evidence” TikTok poses a national security threat due to its data collection policies.

Interestingly, the offer comes about a month after Triller sued TikTok for patent infringement.

In the suit, Triller claimed TikTok lifted “systems and methods for creating music videos synchronized with an audio track” — for which Triller received a U.S. patent in June 2017. The suit said that a key TikTok feature, allowing users to stitch together multiple clips while using a single audio track, clearly infringes on Triller’s patent.

“Triller alleges that ByteDance and TikTok directly and indirectly infringe the Asserted Patent by making, using, offering for sale, selling and importing the popular iOS and Android software application known as ‘TikTok,'” the lawsuit said.

One obvious reason TikTok is appealing to Triller, as well as its other firms bidding on it, is its massive user base, with the app boasting about 100 million American users.

Despite TikTok’s popularity, critics have grown increasingly concerned the app doubles as a data collection tool for China’s communist government. TikTok has denied ever sharing user data with Chinese authorities. But Stratechery’s Ben Thompson recently pointed out TikTok’s privacy policy explicitly says it “may share” user information “with a parent, subsidiary, or other affiliate of our corporate group,” which, based on how companies operate in China, means data can be sent to government authorities.

“It is important to note, this would be the case even if the privacy policy were not so honest. All Chinese Internet companies are compelled by the country’s National Intelligence Law to turn over any and all data that the government demands, and that power is not limited by China’s borders,” Thompson explained further. “Moreover, this requisition of data is not subject to warrants or courts, as is the case with U.S. government requests for data from Facebook or any other entity.”

The tensions between the U.S. Government and TikTok played a key role in CEO Kevin Mayer leaving the company earlier this week, only months after coming over from Disney.