By Joshua Franklin and Echo Wang
Oct 11 (Reuters) – Triller Inc, an increasingly strong competitor to short video platform TikTok, is in discussions with a number of companies about an eventual merger that could lead to the US social network’s stock market debut, according to to sources close to the matter.
The deal would come as Triller is trying to capitalize on the difficulties TikTok – owned by Chinese group ByteDance – has faced in the United States.
The government of President Donald Trump has ordered the Chinese parent to dispose of its US participation in TikTok, citing concerns about the data available from users that could be accessible to the government in Beijing.
TikTok has filed a legal action against the US government to stop a ban on app stores in the United States while talks for a deal continue.
Triller, which was launched in 2015 and has only a fraction of the 100 million users that TikTok has in the United States, has said that it hopes that uncertainty about the future of its rival will lead to more influencers and users to its platform.
Triller is working with investment bank Farvahar Partners while negotiating a possible deal with so-called “special purpose acquisition companies” (SPAC), the sources said.
A SPAC is a shell company that raises money in an initial public offering (IPO) to merge with a private firm and later go public.
Negotiations with a Triller SPAC are taking place alongside a round of discussions with investors for a private fundraiser, led by UBS Group AG, in which the Los Angeles-based company seeks to raise about $ 250 million, the sources said. Triller has so far secured around $ 100 million in the round with investors, giving it a valuation of $ 1.25 billion, according to sources. They are deliberating whether to proceed with private fundraising or opt for the deal with a SPAC, a source added.
(Reports by Joshua Franklin and Echo Wang in New York. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo)