Twitter’s board of directors announced that it agreed to sell the company to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, climaxing the world’s richest person’s quest to acquire his favorite social media platform and take it private.
“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 in a press release. He plans to add in new features, change algorithms and get rid of spam bots on the social media platform.
Musk and Twitter’s board were close to a deal after a meeting on Sunday, according to The Wall Street Journal. Musk, who already owned about 9% of Twitter’s shares, said he had secured $46.5 billion to finalize the purchase.
The reported agreement follows Musk’s April 14 offer to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share, or about $44 billion, to take the company private.
“My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” Musk said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. “Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it.”
Before the deal, Twitter’s shares had been trading well below Musk’s offer price, suggesting investors had little confidence an agreement would be reached.
At a TED event in Vancouver later the day Musk made his offer, the billionaire acknowledged uncertainty he’d pull off a deal, but said he was pursuing Twitter because he believes “it’s very important for there to be an inclusive arena for free speech.”
Musk’s interest aroused unease within the company. The day after Musk’s offer, Twitter’s board rejected it and said it would adopt a “poison pill” anti-takeover defense.
This “does not prevent the Board from engaging with parties or accepting an acquisition proposal if the Board believes that it is in the best interests of Twitter and its shareholders,” the company added in a statement.
Musk in the past has stirred trouble for himself on Twitter. In 2018, he tweeted that he had enough money to take Tesla private, but a court later ruled his claim was false and misleading.
At the Vancouver TED event, Musk revisited the controversy.
“I was forced to concede to the SEC unlawfully. Those bastards,” Musk said of regulators, according to Reuters.
Following Musk’s 2018 tweets, Tesla stockholders asked U.S. District Judge Edward Chen to stop the CEO’s “public campaign to present a contradictory and false narrative.”
The SEC charged Musk with securities fraud over those tweets. Musk settled for $40 million, half of it paid by Tesla.
As part of the settlement, Musk agreed to step down as Tesla chair for three years and promised he’d allow the company to preview statements about the company.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.