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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.

If Microsoft ends up buying TikTok could

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B1 US FinancialTimes treasury tiktok payment microsoft trump

Trump sanctions pile pressure on TikTok Microsoft deal DC Diary

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    洪子雯 posted on 2020/08/08
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