SoftBank Group is reportedly in talks with Reliance Jio Infocomm and Airtel to bid for TikTok’s India operations. That’s according to a new Bloomberg report citing sources familiar with the matter. A separate TechCrunch report last month had revealed Reliance Industries’ interest to invest in TikTok India.
As per Bloomberg’s sources, SoftBank is preparing to assemble a group of bidders to potentially take over TikTok India and resume the company’s operations in the country. In case you didn’t know already, SoftBank is a stakeholder in TikTok’s parent company ByteDance.
The report suggests that SoftBank has shown interest in negotiations despite holding a minor stake in ByteDance. The Japanese multinational conglomerate brought Walmart in a group of investors including Google’s Alphabet. That effort didn’t materialize since the U.S. government reportedly wanted a US company to lead the investments. Since then, Google has expressed that it is no longer interested in the deal, while Walmart teamed up with Microsoft in the bid.
TikTok had almost 200 million users before it got banned. Alongside TikTok, the Indian government banned 58 other apps citing national security reasons. Earlier this week, the government banned yet another set of 118 apps including popular battle royale PUBG Mobile.
We will have to wait to see if SoftBank’s involvement in the negotiations would help lift TikTok’s ban in India. Now that TikTok is out of the race for the foreseeable future, several TikTok-like apps have gained traction to fill the void, with the biggest one being Instagram’s in-app Reels. Instagram is going all-in with its efforts to replicate the functionalities of TikTok and build on it.