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Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he's interested in buying TikTok

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he's putting together a group of investors to try to buy TikTok.
Kevin Dietsch
POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he's putting together a group of investors to try to buy TikTok.

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday he's putting together a group of investors to try to buy TikTok, a day after the House passed a bill that could force the Chinese owners of the popular app to sell the business.

The House bill would ban TikTok in the U.S. unless Bytedance sells the business within six months. Lawmakers passed the bill, citing the danger that China could potentially access data about the millions of Americans who regularly use the app.

"It's a great business and I'm going to put together a group to buy TikTok," Mnuchin said in an interview on CNBC.

The former treasury secretary under President Trump did not disclose who he was in discussions with.

TikTok is widely seen as an attractive target, even as Bytedance has said clearly that it's not for sale.

Also, even though the House bill passed overwhelmingly, it faces a far more uncertain future in the Senate. And even if it passes Congress, it would likely face big legal challenges.

Fears the Chinese government could disrupt U.S. elections via TikTok

Critics of the app have raised national security concerns, arguing the Chinese government could potentially spy on its users or use the app to try to disrupt the upcoming U.S. elections.

Bytedance has pushed back on those claims, saying it has not received a request from China to access the data of Americans and would not share it if asked.

There are also questions about who could actually afford TikTok, which is likely worth tens of billions of dollars. A Big Tech company like Meta, the parent company of Facebook, would have the financial resources to pull off a purchase but any deal with one of the tech giants would likely attract antitrust scrutiny.

Mnuchin is an experienced Wall Street investor. Before working under President Trump, he worked for Goldman Sachs and then became a financier with a Hollywood production company on the side.

Mnuchin is back in Wall Street after his government stint, having announced earlier this month he would invest more than $1 billion into troubled lender New York Community Bancorp along with other investors.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rafael Nam
Rafael Nam is NPR's senior business editor.

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