TikTok owner ByteDance denies it will go public: Report

Beijing, Oct 29 (IANS) Chinese short-video making platform TikTok's owner ByteDance has denied reports of going public in Hong Kong as early as the first quarter of 2020, media reports said.

A report in Financial Times said that ByteDance, founded in 2012 and backed by investors including SoftBank, is preparing for a public listing by retaining law firm K&L Gates and hiring a chief legal officer and former US officials to help address concerns by US lawmakers that TikTok can pose “national security risks”.

“There is absolutely zero truth to the rumours that we plan to list in Hong Kong in Q1,” a spokesperson for the company, the owner of TikTok, was quoted as saying by TechCrunch on Tuesday.

Speculation that ByteDance is gearing up for an IPO began in 2019 when it closed a $3 billion funding round that put its valuation between $75 billion to $78 billion, thus, making it the world's most valuable start-up.

Over the past several weeks, TikTok, owned by Beijing-based Bytedance, has been at the centre of public statements by members of the US Congress and others regarding alleged censorship of content, as well as their data protection practices.

US Senators such as Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton wrote a letter earlier this week to US intelligence officials asking that they investigate TikTok for possible national security threats.

Talking about data privacy and security, TikTok responded: “We store all TikTok US user data in the US, with backup redundancy in Singapore. Our data centres are located entirely outside of China, and none of our data is subject to Chinese law.”

The company noted it has a dedicated technical team focused on adhering to robust cybersecurity policies, and data privacy and security practices.

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