B1 Intermediate US 69 Folder Collection
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If Microsoft ends up buying TikTok could
the US government demand a cut?
The American tech giant has been in discussions with ByteDance,
the Chinese owner of the popular video sharing platform,
for the last few weeks over a potential acquisition.
Those talks began after Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok
altogether, warning that the data of American TikTok users
might not be safe in the hands of a Chinese-owned company.
Now, the two parties are hoping to come
to some sort of agreement by mid-September,
a deadline made even more urgent by Mr Trump's latest threat
to cut TikTok off from any US transactions in 45 days time
if it is not done by then.
But one of the major hurdles here
will be Donald Trump's repeated insistence
that the Treasury should get some kind of payment
for helping engineer the sale in the first place.
Lawyers and policymakers that I talked to in Washington
have no idea how the mechanics of such a payment would work.
It is not unprecedented for the Treasury
to demand a one-off payment from a private company,
but that usually happens when the private company is asking
something of the US taxpayer.
For example, if there is a bailout, there is often a fee
associated with this.
This, however, is not a bailout situation.
This is a situation where the US government
has engineered a sale by threatening
to ban one company altogether.
One lawyer I spoke to said this doesn't so much
resemble a fee as a shakedown.
Now, Microsoft themselves say that they
are committed to providing economic benefit to the US
and, particularly, to the Treasury.
But what they probably mean by that
is some kind of promise over future tax payments.
I doubt they're thinking of a single, one-off fee
to the Treasury.
If the Treasury does demand such a payment,
however, I would expect that that
could kick off a long and protracted legal battle.
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Trump sanctions pile pressure on TikTok Microsoft deal DC Diary

69 Folder Collection
洪子雯 published on August 8, 2020
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