Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is building a group of investors to acquire ByteDance’s TikTok as bipartisan legislation moving through Congress threatens its continued existence in the US

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bipartisan bill that, if signed, would force ByteDance to either abandon its flagship global app or face an effective ban on TikTok in the US

“I think the legislation should be passed and I think it should be sold,” Mnuchin, who runs Liberty Strategic Capital, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday. “It’s a great business and I’m going to get a group together to buy TikTok.”

There are points of contact between Liberty and ByteDance. Masa Son’s SoftBank Vision fund invested in ByteDance in 2018 and is also a limited partner at Mnuchin’s Liberty Strategic.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where its future is uncertain, although President Joe Biden has said he would sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

“This should be owned by American businesses. There is no way the Chinese would allow an American company to own something like this in China,” Mnuchin said.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have highlighted TikTok’s reach in the U.S. — according to its own estimates 170 million Americans use the app — as giving the Chinese government easy access and influence over the U.S.

Major tech investors including Peter Thiel, Vinod Khosla and Keith Rabois have publicly or privately denounced the social media platform as a pernicious influence.

However, it remains unclear whether the Chinese government will allow ByteDance to sell TikTok to a US buyer. TikTok has lobbied hard against the bill, including making concerted appearances to its user base and through videos on its platform.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has hinted that a sale is not an option. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin described the bipartisan push as indicative of the “rogue logic” towards TikTok, Financial Times reported Thursday.

ByteDance was valued at $220 billion in its latest funding round in 2023, according to data from PitchBook. Although a discrete valuation for TikTok was not immediately clear, any sale price for the US division is likely to be lower.

TikTok’s most valuable asset and, for lawmakers, its most troubling weapon, is its algorithm that delivers personalized content to users and was developed in China. Any sale on TikTok without the algorithm would be significantly less attractive to potential buyers.

Mnuchin did not specify who the other investors in such a deal would be or the potential valuation for the social media site.

There are other interested buyers. The Wall Street Journal reported On Sunday, former Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick was shopping a potential deal with prospective partners.

Last week, Mnuchin’s Liberty Strategic Capital was the lead investor in a $1 billion capital raising to stabilize New York Community Bancorp.

Mnuchin served as Treasury Secretary under former President Donald Trump. That administration also took an antagonistic stance toward TikTok, which ultimately led to ByteDance entering into a data partnership with Oracle. Trump has since reversed course and spoken out against banning TikTok.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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