The US retail giant Walmart has said it will team up with Microsoft to make a bid for the US operations of TikTok.
Walmart told the BBC it thought a deal with the Chinese video-sharing app, in partnership with Microsoft, would help it expand its operations.
TikTok has been given 90 days to sell its US arm to an American firm or face a ban in the country.
Earlier on Thursday the firm’s boss resigned ahead of the impending ban by US President Donald Trump.
Confirming that the company was pursuing a deal, a Walmart spokesperson told the BBC: “We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of US TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of US government regulators.”
Microsoft declined to comment, saying it had “nothing to share at this time”.
Microsoft confirmed at the beginning of August that it was in talks with TikTok. Now with Walmart, which owns UK supermarket Asda, it will go up against other prospective bidders, including the US tech giant Oracle.
Reports speculate that TikTok’s US operations could fetch between $20bn and $30bn if a deal is reached.
TikTok, which is owned by Chinese internet firm, ByteDance, has been accused of being a threat to US national security by the Trump administration.
TikTok and Beijing deny the US claims that the data the company collects from its users is at risk of exploitation by the Chinese government.
The founder of ByteDance, Zhang Yiming, has faced criticism for his decision to sell to a US company. But in a letter to his Chinese staff he said it was the only way to prevent the app from being taken down in America.
Since its global launch at the end of 2018 Tiktok has attracted a huge following, especially amongst the under-25s. Many of its users are in their early teens, or even younger.
The app lets its followers create short videos, with the help of an extensive database of songs and wide range of filters.
Along with its sister app, Douyin, which is available in mainland China, TikTok now has an estimated two billion downloads worldwide, with about 800 million active users – 100 million of whom are reported to be in the US.
It’s not the only Chinese-owned app to attract the suspicion of the US authorities – the messaging app WeChat also faces a ban.