Bytedance in talks with Asia's richest man to invest in TikTok

Telegraph reporters
·2-min read
Mukesh Ambani - Getty
Mukesh Ambani - Getty

China's ByteDance is believed to be in early talks with Reliance Industries for an investment in TikTok's business in India.  

The two companies began conversations late last month and have not reached a deal yet, according to TechCrunch, citing sources.

Video-sharing app Tikok had been popular in India, particularly since the start of lockdown, with 611 million downloads according to the analytics firm Sensor Tower.

The app, which has been downloaded more two billion times globally, uses a renowned content selection algorithm to show users a stream of short videos covering everything from dance routines to comedy sketches. 

However the Indian government in June banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, for threatening its "sovereignty and integrity" after border tensions with China.

Officials claimed that they were responding to complaints from citizens about "malicious apps" that "steal and surreptitiously transmit" user data outside India.

The move came after Western users caught TikTok's iPhone app continually accessing their clipboards without their permission, even though it had promised to stop doing so in April.

If Reliance's investment in TikTok goes head, it could help the oil-retail giant gain more traction with consumers in the country.

Owned by Mukesh Ambani, who with an estimated net worth of $57bn (£45bn) is Asia’s richest man, Reliance Industries has raised $20bn since April with investments from tech giants including Facebook and Google.

Bytedance is also being forced to let go of its TikTok operation in the US. 

Last week,  President Donald Trump unveiled bans on US transactions with the China-based owners of messaging app WeChat and TikTok, escalating tensions between the two countries.

Microsoft  has been in talks to acquire the US operations of the video-sharing app.

Social media platform Twitter has also expressed interest in having a deal with TikTok, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters late last week.

Reliance, ByteDance and TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment.