The company has said it has never provided any US user data to the Chinese government, despite accusations by US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP

India’s Reliance Industries, owned by the country’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, is likely to invest in Chinese video-sharing app TikTok, according to media reports.

TikTok’s parent ByteDance and Reliance have reportedly been holding talks since July, but a deal is yet to be reached. It’s unclear if Reliance would like to acquire the whole of TikTok’s business in India or just part of it. Both ByteDance and Reliance spokespersons have declined to comment.

TikTok had run into rough weather in India after it got banned, along with 58 other Chinese apps, on June 29 following a military confrontation along the Sino-Indian border. New Delhi had cited security and privacy concerns over such a step.

For TikTok, India was the largest market outside of China with over 200 million users. ByteDance employs 2,000 people in India and they face an uncertain future.

Interestingly, tech giant Microsoft is also in talks to buy a controlling stake in the Chinese firm’s global operations before the September 15 deadline set by the Trump administration. Social media platform Twitter Inc has also expressed interest in making a deal with TikTok. ByteDance, is under tremendous global pressure over security concerns and data-sharing practices.

Scores of local startups, including Twitter-backed ShareChat and Times Internet’s Gaana and MX Player, Chingari, InMobi Group’s Roposo, and Mitron have launched standalone apps or integrated features to fill the void left behind by TikTok. The local apps have claimed to have added tens of million of new users in recent weeks.

Facebook also joined the race and launched Reels in Instagram last month. Reels allows users to create short-form videos lasting up to 15 seconds, add creative filters and music and share it beyond their regular followers.

Instagram has already attracted tens of thousands of influencers in India, and with Reels it hopes to enable several content creators in India to gain followers worldwide.

Over the last few years Reliance Industries has been trying to pivot to technology from its core business of oil and petrochemicals. Its digital arm Reliance’s Jio Platforms has raised around $20 billion over the last few months from investors including Google and Facebook.

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