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FirstFT: TikTok takes to the Hill

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TikTok’s chief executive Shou Zi Chew will face attacks on multiple fronts when he testifies before Congress today, in an appearance that will help to determine the social media app’s future in the US.

Bipartisan calls to ban the platform have grown over fears it could be used by the Chinese Communist party for espionage or propaganda purposes.

However, Chew will tell the House of Representatives energy and commerce committee that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, based in Beijing, is “not an agent of China”, according to prepared remarks released in advance of the hearing.

ByteDance has also been asked by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (Cfius), an inter-agency panel that evaluates foreign investment, to sell its stake in TikTok in the US in order to distance it from Beijing.

“TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, was founded by Chinese entrepreneurs, but has evolved into a global enterprise since its founding,” Chew will say, adding that TikTok had not shared and would not share data on its 150mn US users with China.

The other events I will be watching today include:

  • Bank of England: The UK central bank is expected to follow the Federal Reserve and raise interest rates by 0.25 percentage points. (More on the Fed below)

  • Economic data: We get data on new applications for unemployment and new homes in the US.

  • Earnings: General Mills, the company behind Cheerios cereal and Häagen-Dazs ice cream, is expected to say higher prices boosted its profits and revenues.

  • Starbucks: The coffee retailer is holding its annual shareholder meeting today and it will mark the first public appearance for the company’s new chief executive, Laxman Narasimhan, who will lead the meeting.

  • Biden-Trudeau meeting: US president Joe Biden will travel to Ottawa for talks with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

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Five more top stories

1. US bondholders are preparing to sue the Swiss government over the wipeout of $17bn of Credit Suisse debt. David Tepper, the billionaire founder of Appaloosa Management, who is among those that bought the bonds, told the Financial Times “contracts are made to be honoured”.

2. Treasury secretary Janet Yellen ruled out a broad expansion of deposit insurance to protect savers with balances above $250,000 in the near term. Her comments fuelled another sell-off in the shares of smaller US banks.

3. The Federal Reserve pressed ahead with a quarter-point rate rise to a new range of 4.75 to 5 per cent despite the banking turmoil. The FOMC said in a statement after the meeting the US banking system was “sound and resilient”.

  • Go deeper: The Fed must now decide whether to keep slamming the brakes on the economy, or whether a looming credit crunch will do the job for it.

4. The Securities and Exchange Commission has notified Coinbase that it is considering enforcement action against the company, according to a document seen by the Financial Times. Shares in the US-listed crypto exchange fell as much as 13 per cent in after-hours trading.

5. British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe plans to offer more than £5bn for Manchester United Football Club. But Ratcliffe is facing competition from Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani who also plans to bid for the English Premier League club.

The Big Read

© FT montage/AFP/Getty Images

The EU wants to make solar power its single biggest source of energy by 2030. That would mean almost tripling its solar power generation capacity over the next seven years. The problem is more than three-quarters of the EU’s solar panel imports in 2021 came from a single country: China.

We’re also reading . . .

Chart of the day

Could commercial property be the next area of the US financial system to blow up? Interest rate rises have led to sharply higher borrowing costs and falling property valuations, putting strain on the $5.6tn market for commercial real estate loans. Offices are seen as the area of biggest risk.

Bar chart of  Unoccupied space in the 10 biggest US office markets (%) showing Increasingly spacious

Take a break from the news

Unlike Logan Roy, Succession creator Jesse Armstrong knows when to call it a day. In its fourth season, the final act of the peerless comedy, Succession reaches new highs, lows and some surprising human emotions, writes critic Dan Einav. Read his review ahead of the Season 4 premiere this week.

Additional contributions by Tee Zhuo and Emily Goldberg

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