Prof Yipeng Liu, in Guanlidao’s launch webinar today, specified three implications from the TikTok deal which will mark global M&A forever. They were “mutual learning”, “creativity, ambiguity and flexibility” and a “new way”. In essence, Liu struck an upbeat note on the progress so far by ByteDance‘s response to the US Executive Order on 6 August 2020, saying it had a far-reaching and positive impact on the world of M&A. As an objective academic with over 70 academic papers on cross-border M&A and related subjects under his belt, his comments should be compared against those with vested interests: the Chinese Government has voiced concern over the deal, going as far as to describe it as theft, while the Trump administration and the participants in the deal have celebrated a victory. Liu sees it as neither of these but a “win-win” where both sides have achieved some notable successes and after a process which saw some very unexpected twists and turns. An outcome which locks a database supplier and a high street retailer in with the raciest tech in the world, loved and used by millions, was certainly not an obvious outcome when the process started.

Beyond Liu’s three implications, he cited three key areas for the TikTok team and future M&A participants to consider: how far to integrate acquisitions, how to manage the talent leading the venture, and how the deal takes its participants into the digital economy. This latter point will be a pervasive theme of all future M&A and Walmart’s participation in the deal is a prime example of M&A being used to rapidly give a company a foothold in the future.