ByteDance and Microsoft have declined to comment.
It wouldn’t be surprising for Microsoft to at least try for such a deal. President Trump considers TikTok a threat as long as there’s Chinese ownership, and has suggested that it would be easier to buy the entire company than part of it. A purchase of all of TikTok could more explicitly satisfy Trump’s preferences and reduce the chances of a US ban that would cut off over 100 million users.
There’s no guarantee that a purchase of this size (or even the narrowly defined one from before) will go through. However, the bigger challenge may be to complete the separation from ByteDance on time. Two of FT’s sources said it would be challenging to meet the one-year deadline, and one suggested it could take up to eight years. If true, Microsoft could either face opposition to the initial deal or suffer blowback if TikTok still has Chinese ties a year later.