Elon Musk said three issues still need to be resolved before his planned $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, originally announced in April, can close.
Musk, speaking via teleconference Tuesday at Bloomberg’s Qatar Economic Forum, said that he still hasn’t gotten clarity about Twitter’s claim that the fake and spam accounts comprise less than 5% of active users, “which I think is probably not most people’s experience when using Twitter. So we are still awaiting resolution on that matter. And that is a very significant matter.” Twitter has said it will “cooperatively share information with Mr. Musk to consummate the transaction,” and the company reportedly offered full access to the service’s 500 million-plus daily tweets.
Musk also said it remains to be seen whether the debt portion of the Twitter deal will “come together” and also noted that his bid requires shareholder approval. “Those are the three things that… need to be resolved before the transaction can be complete,” he said.
Musk’s offer to buy Twitter for $54.20/share comprises $27.25 billion in equity financing, $6.25 billion in margin loans, and $10.5 billion in debt financing. Musk, currently the world’s richest individual, has lined up financing from Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, Prince al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, Sequoia Capital, cryptocurrency exchange Binance.com, and a16z, the VC firm founded by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz.
Meanwhile, Twitter is expected to set a shareholder vote on Musk’s bid later this summer. The company’s board of directors has unanimously recommended that shareholders vote in favor of the deal.
Shares of Twitter were up more than 2% amid a broader market uptick Tuesday, but were still trading under $39/share — nearly 30% below Musk’s bid price, underscoring continued investor skepticism that the deal will close.
Musk was interviewed at the conference by Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait, who asked the mega-billionaire whether there is a limit to who should be allowed on Twitter.
“My aspiration for Twitter, or in general for the digital town square, would be that it is as inclusive in the broadest sense of the word as possible,” Musk replied. “It obviously cannot be a place where [people] feel uncomfortable or harassed, or they’ll simply not use it.”
Musk, as he did in his town hall Q&A with Twitter employees last week, drew a distinction between “freedom of speech” and “freedom of reach.”
“Generally the approach should be to let people say what they want… but limit who sees that based on any given Twitter users’ preferences,” said Musk. Ideally, he said, he would like to get 80% of people in North America or “half the world” population on Twitter in some way.
Musk also was asked whether he plans to be CEO of Twitter. He responded, “I would drive the product, which is what I do at SpaceX and Tesla… Whether I am called the CEO or something else is much less important than my ability to drive the product in the right direction.” At the meeting with Twitter staffers, Musk suggested that layoffs would be in the offing if he successfully completes the takeover.
According to Bloomberg, the Qatar Economic Forum is underwritten by Qatar’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Qatar Investment Authority and Investment Promotion Agency Qatar.
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