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Former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Eyes TikTok Purchase After House Vote

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Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday he is putting together a group of investors to that will try to buy TikTok, which may soon be forced to come up for sale.

The one-time Goldman Sachs executive told CNBC he will lead a group in an attempt to take over China-based ByteDance’s hugely popular short video app, after legislation demanding it be sold to a US company or banned outright moves to the Senate after overwhelmingly passed in the House of Representatives. President Biden has said he will sign the bill.

“I think the legislation should pass and I think it should be sold,” said Mnuchin, who now leads the private-equity firm Liberty Strategic Capital. “It’s a great business and I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok.”

Lawmakers are concerned that the company, though it claims independence, is ultimately answerable to the Chinese Communist Party, which could use the app to influence the 170 million Americans who have downloaded it.

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

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, however, implied in a video posted late Wednesday that the app is not for sale.

Chew said the legislation “will lead to a ban of TikTok in the United States,” while putting more power in the hands of social media companies.

“We will continue to do all we can, including exercising our legal rights, to protect this amazing platform we have built for you,” Chew said. “We believe we can overcome this together.”

It’s also not clear if the Chinese government would allow TikTok to be sold.

Mnuchin, who was the only member of former President Donald Trump’s cabinet to last his full term, has a background in film. He formed Dune Entertainment in 2004, which financed a wide range of films, including the “X-Men” franchise and James Cameron’s “Avatar.” In 2012, the company combined with filmmaker Brett Ratner and Australian businessman James Packer’s RatPac Entertainment, which has backed films like “American Sniper,” “The Lego Movie” and “Wonder Woman.”

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president again this year, has come out against the ban, despite attempting similar measures while he was in office. Now, Trump maintains a ban would push more users to Meta’s Facebook, which he last week lumped in with the media as “the enemy of the people.”

CNBC said the value of the app alone is not clear, but ByteDance was pegged at $220 billion in its last funding round of 2023.

Mnuchin did not name any other potential investors or offer a price tag he’d be willing to pay.

Another possible buyer former Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The post Former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Eyes TikTok Purchase After House Vote appeared first on TheWrap.