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Aug. 9, 2020, 11:21 a.m. EDT

Twitter may emerge as rival to Microsoft in negotiations over TikTok deal

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By Georgia Wells and Cara Lombardo

Getty Images
Security presence at an entrance to the Beijing headquarters of ByteDance, the parent of the video sharing app TikTok.

Twitter Inc. has had preliminary talks about a potential combination with TikTok, the popular video-sharing app that the Trump administration has declared a national-security threat due to its Chinese ownership, according to people familiar with the matter.

It is unclear whether Twitter will pursue a deal with TikTok, which would face significant challenges. A deal would involve TikTok’s U.S. operations, the people said.

Microsoft Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +0.55%  has been negotiating for weeks with TikTok’s owner, Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., and is considered the front-runner for any possible deal, according to the people. Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -1.71%   is seen as a long-shot bidder, given that it is much smaller than Microsoft and would have a harder time paying for the deal — and the software giant is further advanced in negotiations.

Don’t miss: Microsoft’s Nadella is making a smart bet with TikTok — there’s more to gain than some realize

Microsoft said on Aug. 2 that it was pursuing a deal, and that Chief Executive Satya Nadella had discussed the issue with President Trump. Microsoft said it was negotiating for TikTok’s operations in the U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

MarketWatch First Take: No, Trump has no right to demand money from a Microsoft-TikTok deal

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