Donald Trump was on a flight back from Florida in late July when he announced the US faced a new threat that needed to be banned: TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app which has become hugely popular among younger Americans.
Delivered to reporters on Air Force One, the president’s decision came as a complete surprise to the lawyers and White House aides who had been working to finalise a deal that would place TikTok’s US business in the hands of Microsoft, the Seattle-based tech giant. “We are not an M&A country,” Mr Trump said, using a term for mergers and acquisitions.
The presidential intervention set off a frenetic two months of wrangling, intrigue and lobbying that has marked the most politicised takeover battle in recent American history — and one that has still not been concluded.
Oracle, the technology group chaired by Larry Ellison, one of the very few senior figures in Silicon Valley to publicly support Mr Trump, has emerged this week as TikTok’s preferred partner in the US. However, by Friday a deal to acquire a minority stake was still awaiting approval from a reluctant White House.
The Trump administration has also raised the stakes by announcing on Friday morning that it would ban TikTok from Apple and Google app stores, a move that could erode the user experience of…