What is G42? UAE Spy Chief's AI Company Buys $100 Million Stake in TikTok Parent ByteDance

An artificial intelligence company controlled by the national security adviser of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has invested $100 million in ByteDance Ltd, the parent company of TikTok. The UAE firm bought the stake from existing investors in the Chinese social media giant.

The stake purchase comes at a time when TikTok hogged headlines for two developments -- reports of the United States' intention to ban the social app in the country and the Chinese platform's reported plans to spin off TikTok so as to be better able to deal with the possible ban in many countries.

ByteDance YouTube Grab

According to Bloomberg, the Abu Dhabi magnate's investment values BytDance at around $220 billion. This is significantly lower than the $300 billion valuation ByteDance set for itself recently in connection with a share buyback program.

What is G42?

G42 Abu Dhabi

The company that made the investment is G42, an Emirati artificial intelligence firm. The company is led by Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed, an Abu Dhabi royal and the spy chief of the United Arab Emirates. According to G42, its operations range from energy to healthcare to autonomous vehicles. It also says it was at the forefront of efforts to facilitate the first overseas production of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine.

Reuters reported last week that G42 was planning to float its big data analytics unit Presight.ai via a $495.6 million initial public offering.

In 2022, G42 launched a massive $10 billion fund to invest in late-stage technology companies. G42, which is backed by Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, said the new fund would target a broad spectrum of technologies that promise to shape the global economic landscape in the next decades".

Who is Sheikh Tahnoon?

Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the chairman of G42, is the UAE's national security adviser and known as the spymaster of the Gulf Arab emirate. Tahnoon is the brother of the UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

His business empire includes local conglomerate International Holding Company and a string of other new age companies. As a key member of the ruling royal family, Sheikh Tahnoonis known to have been an international troubleshooter for the president of the emirate, according to Reuters.