Home » Former Trump Treasury Secretary says he’s putting together group to buy TikTok

Former Trump Treasury Secretary says he’s putting together group to buy TikTok

by John Jefferson
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Former Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that he’s putting together an investor group to possibly buy TikTok.

A bill passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday that would force the Chinese company owning the social media app, ByteDance, to either sell the company or face a US ban.

“I think the legislation should pass and I think it should be sold,” Mr Mnuchin said on CNBC on Thursday morning. “It’s a great business and I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok.”

If the legislation passes the Senate, the Biden administration has indicated that the president would sign it. Both Republicans and Democrats have noted the app’s reach and China’s possible ability to influence its users – TikTok estimates that it has about 170 million account holders in the US. Other tech investors have argued that TikTok has a negative influence.

Mr Mnuchin, who didn’t specify who the other investors would be, heads Liberty Strategic Capital, which has connections to ByteDance – SoftBank Vision Fund invested in the company in 2018 and is a limited partner in Liberty, CNBC noted.

“This should be owned by US businesses. There’s no way that the Chinese would ever let a US company own something like this in China,” Mr Mnuchin told the broadcaster.

It’s not clear if Beijing would let ByteDance sell TikTok, which has lobbied aggressively against the bill, to a US buyer. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has suggested that the app will not be sold to an American buyer.

On Thursday, the Financial Times reported that Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, called the bipartisan push against the app revealed a “robber’s logic”.

While ByteDance was valued at $220bn last year, a sale price of the American part of the firm would likely be lower, according to CNBC.

TikTok’s algorithm deciding what users see on the platform was created in China and is one of the concerns of lawmakers and other US critics – but a sale without it would make it less attractive to possible buyers.

On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal noted that former Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick was looking at possible deals with a number of partners.

During his time in the Trump administration, Mr Mnuchin was part of a government that also took an adversarial stance against China and TikTok, leading to the app’s partnership with Oracle. But former President Donald Trump has since revealed that he’s now against a TikTok ban.

The Independent has reached out to TikTok for comment.

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