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ByteDance in Talks with Indian Conglomerate Over TikTok Amid Layoff Fears

By Ding Yi / Aug 13, 2020 01:21 PM / World

ByteDance has approached Mumbai-headquartered Reliance Industries Ltd. for potential investment in TikTok’s operations in India, where the Chinese tech giant is struggling to retain key employees following a ban on the hugely popular short video app, according to a report by U.S. tech news provider TechCrunch.

The news comes as ByteDance is pressed by the Trump administration to sell TikTok’s U.S. business for a chance to continue to operate there, with software giant Microsoft and social media platform Twitter being potential purchasers.

ByteDance and Reliance began conversations late last month and have yet to reach a deal, two unnamed sources told TechCrunch, adding that TikTok’s Indian business is being valued at more than $3 billion.

ByteDance has been in talks with the Indian government to address its concerns since New Delhi imposed a ban in late June on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps citing national security grounds. The ban has led to the departure of several high-level executives and employees from ByteDance’s Indian branch and raised fears over large-scale layoffs there. Prior to the ban, India had accounted for a third of TikTok’s global downloads, with 200 million TikTok users.

TechCrunch analyzed that any deal with Reliance could help ByteDance build mutual trust with New Delhi because the Indian conglomerate’s billionaire owner, Mukesh Ambani, is an ally of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On Wednesday, Indian news outlet the Economic Times reported that ByteDance has frozen hiring and reassigned some senior management roles in India amid efforts to reassure employees through internal communications. ByteDance has some 2,000 employees in India.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Twitter Joins Microsoft as Another Possible Purchaser of TikTok’s U.S. Business: Report


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