Elon Musk tells Twitter: My takeover deal is back on
World's richest man wants to kill trial – and presumably end more text message embarrassment
Updated Trading in shares of Twitter was halted today on news that Elon Musk has decided to revive his takeover of Twitter, which would involve buying the company at the originally agreed price of $54.20 per share and ending their legal squabbles.
Twitter's stock spiked more than 10 percent earlier when Bloomberg reported Musk had sent a letter to Twitter saying, effectively, the deal was back on, provided the legal action brought by Twitter against Musk ends. A copy of that letter is now public, via an SEC filing.
Essentially, Musk is saying he'll complete the acquisition as promised as long as Twitter stops suing him – or rather, the court agrees to stay Twitter's legal action – and as long as he gets the money for the takeover in time, or "the proceeds of the debt financing" as his team put it. Halting Twitter's lawsuit against him should also prevent any more of his private text messages being released in court filings.
Before trades were frozen at 1214 ET shares had risen from $42.55 to a penny shy of $50, before dropping to $47.93.
Musk and Twitter are set to go to trial on October 17: the social network sued the world's richest man to force him to stick to his promise to take control of the company and take it private, as he and the board agreed to earlier this year. Musk has spent months trying to back out of the deal.
As the start of the trial fast approached, Twitter released Musk's private text messages to Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, the Tesla tycoon's billionaire pals, and other tech industry luminaries, revealing the brainstorming process and discussions about the proposed purchase. These messages were obtained as part of the lawsuit's discovery process, and included in Twitter's public court filings for all to see.
Among those messages are things that make Musk seem less a champion of free speech, and more someone who wants to control a massive platform, with texts including statements like "Free speech matters most when it's someone you hate spouting what you think is bull****," in relation to the deal.
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Musk has tried multiple times to get out of the deal, with excuses ranging from not being happy with Twitter's user and bot counts to a claim that a severance payment to a whistleblower breached the purchase agreement, thereby freeing him from his $44 billion takeover pledge and a $1 billion break-up fee.
The judge in the upcoming Twitter-versus-Musk showdown, which may now be scrapped, has already denied one request by Musk's team to delay proceedings.
Tulane University law professor Ann Lipton, who spoke to The Washington Post recently, said the Musk text message cache could endanger his attempts to get out of the purchase at trial, as they "hint at motivations other than he had expressed for backing out of the deal."
While it's impossible to know for sure, the text messages may be a motivating factor for Musk to close the deal on his own terms, and without any more potentially embarrassing documents being made public. ®
Update at 1945 UTC
This article was revised following confirmation of Musk's letter to Twitter, which is now linked above.