With the Trump administration increasingly signaling that it may ban Chinese technology power-house ByteDance’s blockbuster app TikTok in the United States over concerns of Beijing spying through the program, the business is considering registering as a publicly traded company on exchanges in Shanghai or Hong Kong, Reuters reported on Friday (July 31).
The wire service, citing anonymous sources, said ByteDance is also considering listing part of its operation on a stock exchange in the United States or Europe.
ByteDance was formed about eight years ago. TikTok lets users upload videos, with special effects, to the internet almost effortlessly. Reuters quoted two sources saying the company is worth about $100 billion.
TikTok has drawn the scrutiny of the Trump administration because of the potential that the Chinese government could gain access to the accounts of American citizens, according to regulatory agency officials quoted in numerous media outlets.
President Trump’s re-election campaign has publicly criticized TikTok. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned that users risk losing their personal data to the “Chinese Community Party.”
The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have also cited security concerns in embracing measures that would prevent federal employees from installing TikTok on government-issued devices. ByteDance denies engaging in subterfuge.
A group of high-profile U.S. investors who hold stakes in ByteDance have proposed making TikTok a separate company in which ByteDance would own a minority stake, the Financial Times reported.
Reuters said ByteDance declined to comment on potential registration sites.
Amid allegations of spying, TikTok has won over users by offering a platform for the silliest of content. Earlier this month, Burger King used its TikTok presence to invite app users to upload dances to a new company jingle in return for steep discounts on Whoppers.
According to Reuters, TikTok makes most of its money selling advertising on apps, including a Chinese version of TikTok called Douyin.
This year, the company’s leadership has partially separated control of China and non-China operations, Reuters reported.