Mnuchin Says He Wants to Buy TikTok

Former Treasury secretary says he's putting a group together to buy Chinese-owned app
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2024 11:44 AM CDT
Mnuchin Says He's Working on TikTok Deal
Former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks with reporters outside the White House, March 29, 2020.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

A bill to force ByteDance to sell TikTok's US operations passed the House on Wednesday and if it becomes law, Steven Mnuchin plans to make an offer to the Chinese company. "It's a great business and I'm going to put together a group to buy TikTok," the Trump administration's Treasury secretary told CNBC. Mnuchin said he supports the legislation. "This should be owned by US businesses," he said. "There's no way that the Chinese would ever let a US company own something like this in China."

  • The possible price tag. The Wall Street Journal says the deal could be worth $100 billion or more, "narrowing the field of potential buyers," especially since antitrust concerns could exclude large social media companies. It's not clear what partners Mnuchin, who established the Liberty Strategic Capital investment fund after leaving office, plans to bring into the deal.

  • But Mnuchin could get a deal. If the bill becomes law, ByteDance will have 180 days to sell the app or face a TikTok ban in the US, which could bring the price down. "As you approach that 180-day clock, the pressure on the company to sell or risk being banned entirely would be high, which would mean probably the acquirers could get it at a lower price," Matt Perault, director of the University of North Carolina's Center on Technology Policy, tells the AP.
  • The bill's future. It's not clear whether Mnuchin's group will get a chance to buy TikTok. While the bill sailed through the House with bipartisan support, it may lose momentum in the Senate, the Journal reports. President Biden has said he will sign it if it clears Congress.
  • China slams "robber's logic." Analysts say Beijing is highly unlikely to approve the sale of TikTok to any American buyer. Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Thursday that "robber's logic" is behind the bill, the Financial Times reports. "When you see other people's good things, you must find ways to own them," Wang said. Commerce ministry spokesperson He Yadong said the US should "stop unfairly suppressing foreign companies," though critics noted that Beijing bans many foreign-owned platforms in China, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. TikTok is also banned in China.
(More TikTok stories.)

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