Finance Elon Musk strikes $61 billion deal to take over social media company Twitter

Elon Musk strikes $61 billion deal to take over social media company Twitter

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The world’s richest man Elon Musk will be the new sole owner of Twitter after an agreement was reached for a $US44 billion ($61 billion) takeover that would make it a privately held company.

After initially trying to fend off Mr Musk, Twitter stockholders will receive $54.20 in cash for each share which Twitter’s Independent Board Chair Bret Taylor said was a “substantial cash premium”.

“We believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders,” said Mr Taylor.

In a statement announcing the deal, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO said he was looking forward to introducing changes on the social media platform to make it “better than ever”.

“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,” Mr Musk said.

“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.”

The deal, which has been unanimously approved by the Twitter Board of Directors, is expected to close in 2022, subject to the approval of Twitter stockholders, regulatory approvals and other conditions.

Mr Musk launched his surprise bid less than two weeks ago after he become the largest shareholder in the firm with a 9.2 per cent stake.

Twitter responded by adopting a “poison pill” defence to prevent him raising his stake in the company above 15 per cent without negotiating a deal with its board.

In response, Mr Musk threatened to launch a tender offer that he could use to register Twitter shareholder support for his bid.

Mr Musk had been meeting Twitter shareholders in the past few days, seeking support for his bid.

He has said Twitter needed to be taken private to grow and become a genuine platform for free speech.

Many Twitter shareholders reached out to the company after Mr Musk outlined a detailed financing plan for his bid on Thursday and urged it not to let the opportunity for a deal slip away, Reuters reported earlier on Sunday.

Mr Musk’s insistence that his bid for Twitter would be his “best and final” emerged as a hurdle in the deal negotiations, sources said.

Nevertheless, Twitter’s board decided to engage with Mr Musk to gather more information on his ability to complete the deal, and potentially get better terms.

Twitter wanted to know more about any active investigations by regulators into Mr Musk, including by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, that would present a risk to the deal being completed, one of the sources says.

A concern that Twitter’s board weighed was that unless it sought to negotiate a deal with Mr Musk, many shareholders could back him in a tender offer, the sources said.

– with AAP