Twitter’s board is negotiating with Tesla CEO Elon Musk over his bid to buy the social media platform and a deal could be announced as early as Monday, according to media reports.
Twitter and Musk spoke into the early hours Monday, The New York Times reported, less than two weeks after the billionaire first revealed a massive stake in the company.
Musk said last week that he had lined up $46.5 billion in financing to buy Twitter, putting pressure on the company’s board to negotiate a deal.
The Times, citing people with knowledge of the situation who it did not identify, said the two sides were discussing details including a timeline and fees if an agreement was signed and then fell apart. The people said the situation was fluid and fast-moving.
Shares of Twitter Inc. rose 4% Monday.
Twitter had 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 to show he had secured financing, according to The Wall Street Journal, which was first to report the negotiations were underway.
Musk has said he wants to buy Twitter because he doesn’t feel it’s living up to its potential as a platform for free speech. Twitter, he said, “needs to be transformed as a private company” in order to build trust with users and do better at serving what he calls the “societal imperative” of free speech.
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.
A rival bidder to Musk may not be stepping up any time soon, fearful of the byzantine task of moderating content on the platform, something that Musk has vowed to do less of.
“The Twitter Board could not find a white knight and with Musk’s financing detailed the clock has essentially struck midnight for the board which is why negotiations have begun to get a deal done,” said Dan Ives, who follows Twitter for Wedbush Securities.
While Twitter’s user base 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 more than 83 million followers, rivaling several pop stars in the ranks of most-followed accounts.
On April 14, Musk announced an offer to buy the social media platform for $54.20 per share, or about $43 billion, but did not say at the time how he would finance the acquisition.
Last week, he said in documents filed with U.S. securities regulators that the money would come from Morgan Stanley and other banks, some of it secured by his huge stake in Tesla.
Twitter has not commented.
Musk is the world’s wealthiest person, according to Forbes, with a nearly $279 billion fortune. But much of his money is tied up in Tesla stock — he owns about 17% of the electric car company, according to FactSet, which is valued at more than $1 trillion — and SpaceX, his privately held space company. It’s unclear how much cash Musk has.
Twitter’s board has flexibility in judging Musk’s proposal not just on the finances but also the specifics of whether his plans for the company are in its best interests, said Kevin Kaiser, a finance professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
—The Associated Press