Elon Musk, tesla CEOElon Musk, tesla CEO


Tesla boss Elon Musk agrees £34.5bn deal to buy Twitter after criticism of social media platform

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk adds Twitter to his enormous business portfolio
  • World’s richest man agrees deal to buy social media platform for £34.5bn
  • 50-year-old promises a more lenient touch to policing content

Time 8:05 am, April 26, 2022

Tesla boss Elon Musk has agreed a deal to buy Twitter for an eye-watering £34.5bn after weeks of speculation that a takeover could be on the cards.

The EV mogul, officially the word’s richest man, initially bought a 9.2 per cent stake in the company around three weeks ago sparking rumours of a buy out.

Despite some opposition, which saw Twitter adopt a ‘poison pill’ defence. a deal has now been thrashed out worth an estimated $44bn.

Musk, 50, has promised a more lenient touch to policing content on the platform.

The outspoken Tesla CEO has said he wanted to buy and privatise Twitter because he thinks it is not living up to its potential as a platform for free speech.

Musk said in a joint statement with Twitter that he wants to make the service ‘better than ever’ with new features, such as getting rid of automated ‘spam bots’ and making its algorithms open to the public to increase trust.

He said: ‘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.’

Musk said last week that he had lined up $46.5bn in financing to buy Twitter, putting pressure on the company’s board to negotiate a deal.

Twitter said the transaction was unanimously approved by its board of directors.

The 11-member board includes Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, who has been planning to step down from the board in May.

Twitter said the deal is expected to close sometime this year and is subject to the approval of Twitter stockholders and regulators.

Shares of Twitter Inc rose six per cent on Monday to $52 per share. On April 14, Musk announced an offer to buy the social media platform for $54.20 per share.

While the stock is up sharply since Musk made his offer, it is well below the high of $77 per share it reached in February 2021.

Musk has described himself as a ‘free-speech absolutist’ but is also known for blocking or disparaging other Twitter users who question or disagree with him.

In recent weeks, he has voiced a number of proposed changes for the company, from relaxing its content restrictions — such as the rules that suspended former president Donald Trump’s account — to ridding the platform of fake and automated accounts, and shifting away from its advertising-based revenue model.

Asked during a recent TED talk if there are any limits to his notion of ‘free speech’, Musk said Twitter or any forum is ‘obviously bound by the laws of the country that it operates in. So obviously there are some limitations on free speech in the US, and, of course, Twitter would have to abide by those rules’.

Beyond that, though, he said he would be ‘very reluctant’ to delete things and in general be cautious about permanent bans.

It will not be perfect, Musk added, ‘but I think we want it to really have the perception and reality that speech is as free as reasonably possible’.

Twitter had initially enacted an anti-takeover measure known as a poison pill that could make a takeover attempt prohibitively expensive.

But the board decided to negotiate after Musk updated his proposal last week to show he had secured financing, according to The Wall Street Journal.

While Twitter’s user base of more than 200 million remains much smaller than those of rivals such as Facebook and TikTok, the service is popular with celebrities, world leaders, journalists and intellectuals.

Musk himself is a prolific tweeter with a following that rivals several pop stars in the ranks of the most popular accounts.

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Last week, he said in documents filed with US securities regulators that the money would come from Morgan Stanley and other banks, some of it secured by his huge stake in Tesla.

Musk is the world’s wealthiest person, according to Forbes, with a nearly $279bn billion fortune.

However, much of his money is tied up in Tesla stock. He owns about 17 per cent of the electric car company, according to FactSet, which is valued at more than one trillion dollars — and SpaceX, his privately held space company. It is unclear how much cash Musk has.

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