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TikTok Deal Could Challenge Microsoft CEO’s Light Touch on Acquisitions

TikTok Deal Could Challenge Microsoft CEO’s Light Touch on Acquisitions

For Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Satya Nadella, completing an acquisition of TikTok’s U.S. business could pose a new challenge: How to reshape a just-bought business quickly, without damaging its successful formula.

Mr. Nadella typically has taken a light-touch approach in Microsoft’s biggest acquisitions. After the software giant shelled out $26 billion on LinkedIn in 2016, it took years to integrate the business, in part to avoid disrupting the culture that had made the business-focused networking startup a success.

“This is not about changing the core of LinkedIn,” Mr. Nadella said at the time of the takeover. He largely repeated the strategy two years later with Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of developer collaboration platform GitHub Inc.

Sticking to that script with TikTok could be harder, though, if Microsoft prevails in its bid to buy parts of the video-sharing app from Beijing-based parent ByteDance Ltd. amid pressure from the Trump administration over security concerns.

President Trump last week signed an executive order that would take effect in September and effectively bar American transactions with TikTok’s owner, including possibly downloads of the app, unless the U.S. business is sold. The administration’s position is that TikTok poses an economic and national-security threat to U.S. interests. TikTok disputes it poses such a risk and said it would challenge the order.

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