Abu Dhabi's G42 buys ByteDance stake at $220bn valuation
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Abu Dhabi’s G42 buys ByteDance stake at $220bn valuation

Abu Dhabi’s G42 buys ByteDance stake at $220bn valuation

G42 acquired a $100m-plus stake from existing investors in recent months through its 42XFund, Bloomberg reported


ByteDance was valued at around $220bn in a recent private-market investment by Abu Dhabi AI firm G42, a significant discount to the $300bn that TikTok’s owner set during a recent share buyback programme.

G42, controlled by UAE royal Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, acquired a $100m-plus stake from existing investors in recent months through its 42XFund, Bloomberg reported that people with knowledge of the deal said.

Another fund bought into ByteDance at a $225bn shortly after, one of the people said, asking not to be identified describing non-public information.

The Chinese internet firm’s gyrating price tag reflects the uncertainty that’s set in since Washington signalled it may be open to outlawing viral video phenom TikTok, which lawmakers have accused of being a national security threat. TikTok’s leadership is discussing the possibility of separating from its Chinese parent to help address those concerns, though that’s a last resort.

ByteDance’s valuation in the G42 transaction doesn’t yet reflect potential after-effects of the Silicon Valley Bank implosion, which stunned startups from the US to China and has raised concerns about broader systemic risks. It remains well off a peak of around $460bn in 2021 when Tiger Global Management bought shares.

Sheikh Tahnoon has built a portfolio through G42 in everything from cloud computing to vaccines and driverless cars.

Last year, his AI firm set up the $10bn 42XFund, which has additional financial backers, to invest in technology companies across emerging markets. It recently hired Jason Hu, the former investment head with China’s JD.com, to expand its footprint across Asia.

Representatives for 42XFund declined to comment. A ByteDance spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the longer term, some investors believe that parts of China’s embattled tech sector may finally get back on track for growth, despite lingering suspicion about Beijing’s intentions for the private sector. Xi Jinping’s government has since last year repeatedly reassured investors and entrepreneurs alike about its pro-business stance.

ByteDance, which gained a foothold in the US by buying TikTok’s predecessor, is one of a handful of Chinese app developers to have hit the big time abroad. That select club includes upstarts like fast-fashion purveyor Shein Group, AliExpress and PDD Holding’s bargains app Temu.

ByteDance’s marquee service drew advertisers keen on hitting a more youthful demographic. And it’s craved out a niche selling goods to millions of social media users via livestreams across the world.

That popularity spooked some in Washington. The White House endorsed a bipartisan bill last week that could grant the president authority to ban or force a sale of TikTok — which could deal a major blow to the Chinese firm’s international ambitions.

A ByteDance IPO — the company has explored options including Hong Kong and the US — remains a ways off, given global market volatility.

In September last year, the Beijing company offered to buy back $3bn of its own shares at a valuation of about $300bn, offering a way existing backers such as Susquehanna International Group and Sequoia Capital to cash in some of their gains.

ByteDance, which is also backed by SoftBank Group and Temasek Holdings Pte, isn’t in urgent need of cash after TikTok alone generated an estimated $12bn of revenue in 2022.

Read: China’s ByteDance invests in Dubai-based logistics startup iMile Delivery

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