UAE spy chief buys stake in TikTok firm
The UAE’s spy chief has taken a stake in TikTok’s Chinese parent company as Abu Dhabi’s royal family grows its influence in the technology sector.
West Asian investor G42, controlled by Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al Nahyan, snapped up a $100 million stake in Bytedance.
Sheikh Tahnoon is the younger brother of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the kingdom’s heir apparent, and serves as the state’s top security official.
The deal values the tech giant at $220 billion, Bloomberg reported, representing a significant discount to its last $300 billion valuation.
Sheikh Tahnoon has overseen the Emirati state’s thawing relations with Israel and handles its security dealings with the US and Britain.
The 51-year-old spymaster also has substantial private sector interests, handling investments in health technology.
G42 has led investments in cloud computing and vaccine development.
Last year it launched a $10 billion fund, X42, to invest in artificial intelligence. The investment in Bytedance cuts the Beijing-headquartered company’s valuation by $80 billion as it grapples with UK’s ban on TikTok on all government devices.
TikTok, Bytedance’s viral video-sharing platform, has attracted the ire of senior politicians in the US who want to push through laws that would give President Joe Biden the authority to block the app.
The US has already banned TikTok from being installed on government devices. US officials fear user data could be accessed from China under Beijing’s national security laws.
The Daily Telegraph, London