Reliance likely to acquire TikTok in India for $5 billion

Bengaluru: India’s most valuable company Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is reportedly the latest bidder for the Bytedance-owned TikTok in India.

The Mukesh Ambani-led firm had begun talks last month with the Chinese firm to acquire its operations in India. The deal is said to be valued at $5 billion.

India is the largest market for the short video app outside China with more than 611 million downloads generated till date, according to data sourced from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower. However, when it comes to monetization, China, US and UK accounted for 90% of the total TikTok revenues.

Although, Reliance and Bytedance both denied any information on the reported deal, industry analysts predict that Reliance’s acquisition of TikTok is the most likely scenario especially after the Chinese app was banned by the Indian government in June on the grounds of threats to national security and data privacy.

Interestingly, Facebook, which is the largest minority stakeholder in Reliance’s Jio platforms, has also recently launched Instagram Reels in India, where the users can make a short video, embedded in the photo-sharing platform.

Sanchit Vir Gogia, CEO, Greyhound Research wrote in his note that in the present circumstances, Bytedance’s deal with Reliance Jio could be a viable option to clear the regulatory hurdles in India while also helping leverage the nearly 400 million users base of Jio.

“Although Instagram Reels is being described as a clone of TikTok, the fact is that the similarity of the features may act as an advantage and help the Facebook backed photo-sharing app onboard millions of users in India who were earlier using TikTok. Facebook still has a larger user base than TikTok in India and over the course of time, Instagram Reels can leverage the massive network Facebook has in India. Reels was first smartly tested in low-risk markets and then rolled out in India for scale and mass content – while it may not come across as integrated with other products, it may be too early to judge. Leverage with a broader FB network makes Instagram Reels more compelling than TikTok,” Gogia added.

Tech giant Microsoft had earlier said that it is planning to purchase TikTok in the US and other key markets.

US President Donald Trump’s latest executive order last week serving a 45-day deadline for the TikTok sale may likely lead to fastracking the potential sale. Microsoft had confirmed that it is in talks with Bytedance to acquire TikTok and that the discussions will be concluded by September 15.

With inputs from Express News Service