SoftBank Group is exploring assembling a group of bidders for TikTok’s India assets and has been actively looking for local partners, according to people familiar with the matter.
Over the past month, the Japanese conglomerate, which owns a stake in TikTok’s Chinese parent ByteDance, has held talks with the heads of Reliance Jio Infocomm and Bharti Airtel, the people told Bloomberg, on condition of anonymity. While discussions have fizzled since, SoftBank is still exploring options, according to the people.
The Chinese video-sharing app, along with 58 other apps, had been banned in India earlier this year. The move came soon after the June 15 clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, where 20 army personnel were killed in action.
Last month, hours after TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer announced his resignation from his position, parent ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming wrote a letter highlighting that the company is “moving quickly” to resolve issues in India and the US.
India was one of TikTok’s largest markets, with more than 200 million users. The app is also facing the heat in the United States as President Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok and then ordered ByteDance to sell its assets in the country because of national security concerns.
Earlier, Centricus Asset Management, which is also a frequent adviser to SoftBank, teamed up with Triller in a bid for TikTok’s operations in the US and several other countries for $20 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Notably, SoftBank has invested over $10 Bn in over 15 Indian startups like Delhivery, FirstCry, Grofers, Ola, Ola Electric, Hike, OYO, Paytm, Housing.com, and PolicyBazaar. The company also invested $231 Mn in Lenskart from SoftBank Vision Fund II.
Earlier, reports have suggested that global tech giant Microsoft is reportedly looking to acquire all of TikTok’s global businesses, including its India and Europe entities.