Less than two weeks after adopting a poison pill to ward off Elon Musk’s hostile bid to acquire Twitter, the social media company has reversed course and accepted the entrepreneur’s offer.
Twitter, on Monday, announced its board of directors had unanimously accepted Musk’s $44 billion buyout, which will value the company’s shares at $54.20. Twitter will become a privately held company once the deal is completed.
Twitter had seemingly been gearing up for a fight with Musk since he announced he had bought a 9.2% “passive” stake in the company on April 4. However, Musk’s declaration that he had secured commitments for $46.5 billion in financing made the board warm to the offer.
“The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing,” said Bret Taylor, Twitter’s Independent Board Chair in a statement. “The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.”
Musk has personally committed $21 billion in equity financing, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 21. Additionally, he has secured roughly $25.5 in debt financing through Morgan Stanley Senior funding and other firms, including Bank of America, Barclays, MUFG, Société Génerale, BNP Paribas, and Mizuho Bank.
Some analysts had warned that rebuffing the offer would be a “powerful mistake” on Twitter’s part.
Musk has been outspoken about changes he’d like to see at the social media company, with an emphasis on his definition of “free speech.” And many have speculated that a Musk-led Twitter will mean the return of former President Donald Trump, who was permanently suspended from the platform after the Capitol riots in January of 2021.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” said Musk. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential—I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”
The Tesla CEO has hinted at an edit button for tweets and at purging the platform of spam bots. He has also proposed making the company’s algorithms available for everyone to inspect, and showing why certain tweets are promoted. That could, potentially, quiet criticisms by Republican lawmakers who have claimed Twitter covertly controls who gets to say what on the platform.
But Musk critics note the entrepreneur has little tolerance for speech that’s unflattering to him or his companies. And both Tesla and SpaceX have a history of punishing people who go public with criticism of a company practice or project.
The talks between Musk and Twitter escalated Friday, when Musk met privately with several shareholders and told them the board needed to make a “yes or no” decision, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Twitter was expected to address the offer this week regardless, as the company is scheduled to report its quarterly earnings on Thursday. As part of Monday’s announcement, Twitter said it will no longer hold a conference call after the results are released.
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