Elon Musk buys Twitter – again: Tesla CEO renews $44bn offer in shocking twist

Elon Musk will pay the original $44bn price for Twitter despite his complaints about bots on the platform

Adam Smith
Wednesday 05 October 2022 00:22 BST
Elon Musk Moves Forward With Twitter Deal

Elon Musk looks set to purchase Twitter and take it private, months after trying to back out of the deal. Mr Musk revived his original offer of $44bn (£38bn) to purchase the company, which the tech platform has accepted.

The billionaire made the offer of $54.20 a share in a letter to Twitter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

Twitter confirmed that it had received Mr Musk’s renewed offer.

“We received the letter from the Musk parties which they have filed with the SEC,” a spokesperson said. “The intention of the company is to close the transaction at 54.20 dollars per share.”

Wall Street appeared thrilled with the development, with the news triggering such a swift increase in Twitter’s stock price that the New York Stock Exchange had to pause trading twice.

The revived buyout bid could end contentious litigation between Twitter and Mr Musk.

In July, the social network sued the billionaire to force the deal through, arguing Mr Musk had violated the terms of their contract when he announced he would not to buy the company after all.

A trial was set in the Delaware Court of Chancery for 17 October, and depositions of figures in the case like Mr Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal were scheduled for this week. The fate of the litigation is now unclear.

Observers were both alarmed and not very surprised by the latest turn in the Twitter acquisition drama.

Business experts said Mr Musk was running low on viable options as the Delaware case loomed.

“What’s ultimately strange about it is that it’s the most predictable ending,” Ann Lipton, a professor of business law at Tulane University, told The Verge. “Of course cases settle before trial, of course cases settle before the deposition of the top guy. The only thing that’s surprising is that he didn’t manage to knock a dollar off the deal price.”

“Musk is finally listening to his lawyers,” Anat Alon-Beck, a business law professor at Case Western Reserve University, added in the Washington Post. “He would be a fool to not at least try to buy the company now and avoid being deposed.”

Some were dismayed by the potential political remifications of Elon Musk being in top position at the social network. A deal would put the world’s richest person in charge of one of the most influential media platforms and end months of turbulent litigation that damaged Twitter’s brand and fed Musk’s reputation for erratic behaviour.

“From the outset, Elon Musk’s desire to take over Twitter was about advancing his own red-pilled ideological agenda. He was explicit about his intentions, which is why right-wing extremists celebrated the news,” Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, a nonprofit media watchdog, said in a statement.

“With reports that Musk is now on the cusp of acquiring Twitter, the platform will become a supercharged engine of radicalization if he follows through with even a fraction of what he has promised,” he continued.

Mr Musk, the network’s largest shareholder, had originally planned to join Twitter’s board, but disagreements between him and Twitter chief Agrawal scuppered the move.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s founder, was enthusiastic about Mr Musk’s involvement, telling him that, although the board was “terrible”, Mr Agrawal was an “incredible engineer”, texts between the two, revealed via court documents, stated.

On 14 April, Twitter revealed in a securities filing that Mr Musk had offered to buy the company outright for about $44bn. After first trying to thwart the hostile takeover, Twitter ended up agreeing to the deal on 25 April.

In May, Mr Musk announced that his proposed takeover of the social media platform was “on hold” as he looked for more information about spam, bots and fake accounts on the platform.

Mr Agrawal published a long thread in which he said he would take on the issue “with the benefit of data, facts and context”, explaining how Twitter worked out the number of bots within its monetisable daily active users.

In response, Mr Musk tweeted a poop emoji.

Later, the Tesla founder added allegations from a Twitter whistelblower about alleged security breaches and infiltration from foreign agents on the social network to his reasons for nixing the deal.

Observers said it’s likely Twitter will eventually accept Mr Musk’s new terms if it becomes clear the offer is a genuine one.

“The very public saga has certainly taken a toll on them and Twitter employees,” Josh White, assistant professor of finance at Vanderbilt University, told CNN. “It is best for all parties to finish the deal and make a quick and seamless transition. I suspect it will close quickly.”

If Mr Musk does indeed come to own Twitter, it could mean changes big and small for the site.

Most fundamentally, the deal would shift Twitter from being a public to a private company, insulating Mr Musk from both the legal and informal pressures of answering to shareholders.

With this newfound freedom, Mr Musk could very well welcome Donald Trump back onto Twitter, suggest recent text messages between Musk and friends released in court about reinstating “the boss” on the site.

The billionaire has previously called the former president’s Twitter ban "morally wrong and flat out stupid.”

The conversations also suggest unnamed insiders proposed hiring a “Blake Masters type” as “VP of enforcement” regarding new changes on Twitter, a reference to the venture capitalist running a right-wing campaign for Senate in Arizona.

Mr Musk has also discussed making Twitter’s algorithm public.

“I’m worried about de facto bias in ‘the Twitter algorithm’ having a major effect on public discourse,” he previously said. “How do we know what’s really happening?"

The Twitter deal is also reliant on debt financing, and a financial filing earlier this year disclosed the biggest backer of Mr Musk’s bid is Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal Al Saud, suggesting the new Twitter could be friendlier to harsh regimes.

“Authoritarian governments will have a field day,” tech reporter Ben Collins argued on Twitter after the renewed takeover news.

Only, more subtle changes could be in store, such as adding an edit button and expanding the maximum length of tweets.

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