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Elon’s war of words with the Saudi prince is over as he secures further funding to buy Twitter. It’s not his first takeover saga involving the kingdom

May 6, 2022, 6:10 PM UTC

Just three weeks ago, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud was one of many Twitter shareholders to publicly voice displeasure with the news that the world’s richest man was putting together a bid to purchase the social media platform.

“I don’t believe that the proposed offer by Elon Musk ($54.20) comes close to the intrinsic value of Twitter given its growth prospects. Being one of the largest & long-term shareholders of Twitter…I reject this offer,” the Saudi billionaire tweeted

Now Musk and Alwaleed—who personally owns a 4.45% stake in Twitter and another 0.72% of the company through his company Kingdom Holding—have reconciled their differences. 

It’s unclear how Musk was able to change Alwaleed’s mind, but in a tweet Thursday, the Saudi prince called the Tesla CEO his “new friend” and pledged to roll the $1.9 billion stake he owns in Twitter toward Musk’s privatization effort.

Things weren’t always so smooth. After Alwaleed tweeted out his rejection of Musk’s offer in April, Musk responded by questioning Saudi Arabia’s views on freedom of the press. 

The country—which explicitly does not provide for freedom of expression or press, according to a 2018 U.S. State Department report on human rights in Saudi Arabia—currently ranks 166 out of 180 on the 2022 Press Freedom Index.

This is not the first fallout over a takeover deal—or even the funding for one—between Musk and the Saudi Kingdom.

Musk’s previous attempt to secure Saudi funding

In 2018, Musk led a confusing effort to take Tesla private, at first tweeting out a seeming joke that he wanted to buy it for $420 per share, with “funding secured,” shortly before appearing on Joe Rogan’s podcast and apparently smoking weed on air. When the funding turned out not to be secured, reports emerged that the Saudi Kingdom was in talks to provide Musk with backing. That fell through, and Musk’s initial tweet of a takeover bid for Tesla resulted in lawsuits from the SEC and a still-ongoing matter filed by shareholders.

In a series of text messages that recently came to light as part of the shareholder suit, Musk criticized Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the head of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, for not publicly backing the take-private.

Musk alleged that Al-Rumayyan had “strongly conveyed” that the Saudi PIF would finance Musk’s bid to privatize the electric car company during an in-person meeting, but a statement Al-Rumayyan provided to Bloomberg News at the time suggested the commitment was far less set in stone.

“This is an extremely weak statement and does not reflect the conversation we had at Tesla. You said you were definitely interested in taking Tesla private and had wanted to do so since 2016,” Musk texted Al-Rumayyan. “I’m sorry, but we cannot work together.”

Flash forward to 2022, and now Musk actually has a Saudi backer for a massive take-private deal. Alwaleed joins a growing list of 19 private investors and firms that have agreed to make an equity investment in Twitter in the aftermath of Musk’s purchase.

That list also includes Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison, Binance, Sequoia Capital, Brookfield, and the Qatar Investment Authority, who collectively agreed to supply Musk with $7.1 billion in funding on Thursday. 

“We hope to be able to play a role in bringing social media and Web3 together and broadening the use and adoption of crypto and blockchain technology,” crypto exchange Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said in a statement

Other major investors include Strauss Capital, Andersson Horowitz, and Fidelity

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