Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, during a hybrid hearing, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP) ** FILE ** more >

TikTok on the clock: U.S. reviewing Oracle's proposed acquisition of Chinese-owned app


Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Monday the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States will begin this week reviewing a proposal from Oracle to acquire the Chinese-owned video app TikTok.

While no American company appeared able to rescue TikTok before President Trump’s Sept. 15 deadline to avoid a ban, Mr. Mnuchin told CNBC that Mr. Trump’s executive orders mean the deadline extends to Sept. 20 to get a deal done.

“We did get a proposal over the weekend that includes Oracle as the trusted technology partner, with Oracle making many representations for national security issues; there’s also a commitment to create TikTok Global as a U.S.-headquartered company with 20,000 new jobs,” Mr. Mnuchin said on CNBC. “I’m not going to go into the entire proposal. We will be reviewing that at the CFIUS committee this week and then we will be making a recommendation to the president and reviewing it with him.”

CFIUS is a U.S. government committee led by Mr. Mnuchin that reviews commercial transactions for potential national security problems, and its purview was broadened by the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA). In addition to CFIUS’ review, Mr. Mnuchin said there is an ongoing national security review of TikTok as well.

For any deal to get done, Mr. Mnuchin said the U.S. government will need to know that Americans’ data and phones are secure when using TikTok and that the computer code is secure as well.

While Mr. Mnuchin sounded open to Oracle’s acquisition pending a review by various technical teams, the Chinese regime may still try to stop an American company from buying TikTok. China’s state-run media CGTN said Monday that TikTok’s Chinese owners, ByteDance, would not sell to Oracle.

TikTok may quickly run out of options if the Oracle deal falls through. After speaking with Mr. Trump about its desire to take control of TikTok, Microsoft said Sunday that ByteDance said it would not sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to Microsoft.

“We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests,” Microsoft said in a statement on the company’s website. “To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combatting disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement. We look forward to seeing how the service evolves in these important areas.”