WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said on Monday that he would save a deal to boost American control of Chinese-owned popular social media app TikTok if possible, but would “cut it off” if not.
Speaking to reporters before departing the White House, Trump said he had given a “preliminary ok” to a plan for U.S. companies Oracle and Walmart to take stakes in a new U.S. company to run TikTok, which is currently owned by China’s Bytedance.
But the President also stressed that he could scrap the deal if it didn’t satisfy his demands.
“If we can save it, we’ll save it, and if we can’t we’ll cut it off,” he said before traveling to Ohio. “We have to have total security. That’s the only thing, very important, We have to have total security,” he added.
Trump had previously made clear he wanted a U.S. company to buy TikTok, but questions have swirled about whether Bytedance will retain a majority stake in the new enterprise.
ByteDance said on Monday that it will own 80% of TikTok Global, a newly created U.S. company that will own most of the app’s operations worldwide. ByteDance added that TikTok Global will become its subsidiary.
Oracle and Walmart Inc, which have agreed to take stakes in TikTok Global of 12.5% and 7.5% respectively, had said on Saturday that majority ownership of TikTok would be in American hands.
TikTok is currently entirely owned by ByteDance, which in turn is 40% owned by U.S. investors.
The Commerce Department postponed a ban on downloads of the TikTok app that was due to take effect on Sunday by one week, to give the companies time to finalize the deal.
Earlier on Monday, Trump told Fox News that Oracle and Walmart would have “total control” over TikTok. “If we find that they don’t have total control, then we’re not going to approve the deal,” Trump said.