A federal ruling is expected to be announced tonight on whether downloads of the video-sharing app TikTok will be banned throughout the U.S.
A hearing took place Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. EST before U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington. During the ninety-minute hearing, TikTok's lawyers argued, via dial-in, that the looming ban from the Trump administration would be “devastating” and an attack on free speech.
President Donald Trump has called the app a "national security" risk, citing how it is owned by Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance Ltd. If TikTok found a U.S. buyer, the ban would likely not go into effect, he had said.
Trump had originally given TikTok's deal with Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL) and Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) "his blessing," seemingly putting an end to the dramatic back-and-forth. Once details of the agreement were made public, however, TikTok found itself under scrutiny once again.
Under the terms, Oracle would hold a 12.5% stake and Walmart would own just 7.5%. The board of the new company, dubbed TikTok Global, would consist of four American citizens and ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming.
ByteDance would own the remaining 80% majority stake of TikTok Global, making it a subsidiary still under the ownership of a Chinese entity.
Unless Judge Nichols blocks Trump's order, the ban would go into effect Monday, Sept. 27.
Oracle maintains that ByteDance will have “no ownership” of TikTok Global, contradicting what ByteDance announced.
It's also worth noting that about 70% of the equity capital ByteDance had raised from investors came from the United States. Among ByteDance's investors are American firms such as Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic.
Whatever deal ends up getting announced needs final approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS).
TikTok tried to clapback against the ban by filing a complaint in a Washington federal court challenging the prohibitory measures taken by Trump.
Currently TikTok has about 1,400 U.S. employees. It intended to hire 10,000 more employees in the weeks leading up to a ban that would have shut down virtually all of TikTok's U.S. operations.
The original ban was expected to start on Sept. 20, but the Oracle/Walmart announcement delayed the process.
Mcrosoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) had previously placed an offer to buy TikTok, but ByteDance rejected the bid.
The TikTok service, popular among Gen Z, had peeved the Trump administration back in June when the President was looking forward to a political rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Trump campaign had touted more than 1 million possible attendees, only to discover a crowd of about 6,000. That's because TikTok users had orchestrated a prank via phony registrations.
TikTok first came about when ByteDance acquired Shanghai-based video app Musical.ly app in a $1 billion deal back in 2017.
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