Axios Retracts Report That Apple Has "Expressed Interest" In Buying TikTok

Update: Well, that was fun. Moments after reporting that Apple is looking to buy Apple, Axios reported precisely the opposite, with the report author Dan Primack now backtracking and issuing what may be the fastest retraction ever.

One almost wonders who were the unvetted "sources" that bought... and immediately sold AAPL calls.

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As the drama over the fate of TikTok - and US-China cold war relations deepens - moments ago Axios reported that Microsoft, whose stock has surged in recent days after confirming it is looking at acquiring China's "trojan horse" TikTok, moments ago Axios reported that the world's largest company, Apple may also be interested in entering the social media space, and has "expressed an interest" in purchasing TikTok.

Multiple sources tell me that Apple has expressed interest, albeit no sources inside of Apple, and that at least one other strategic has expressed interest. Yes, it would be an unusual deal for Apple, given that TikTok is a cross-platform app, and a bigger political headache than Tim Cook may want (both here and in China). But if anyone has the cash on hand...

The last point is valid: does Apple (or frankly Microsoft), both of which have been grilled for being too big and monopolies really need the headache of becoming even bigger, and an even more prominent political target? On the other hand who else has the cash on hand for such a sizable acquisition? Well, private equity does, and as Axios adds...

Private equity is also circling, including some firms that don't have current stakes in ByteDance. But, I haven't heard one that's terribly optimistic that they can pull it off without finding an insider or major strategic with whom to partner.

Clearly it is in ByteDance's interest to get multiple suitors when it comes to pricing, which "could help the White House secure concessions."

For now, however, the news has sparked a fresh blast higher in AAPL stock, which is up 1.5% on the session and back to new all time highs sporting a $1.875 trillion market cap. In fact, with AAPL's market cap jumping about $25bn on the news of a potential deal, a few more minutes and the entire purchase would be free. Of course, MSFT stock has slumped on the news.