Billionaire Elon Musk offered to buy 100% of Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash to take the company private, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing he released Thursday.
“I am offering to buy 100% of Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, a 54% premium over the day before I began investing in Twitter and a 38% premium over the day before my investment was publicly announced,” said Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. His offer values Twitter at about $43 billion.
Musk tweeted the SEC filing to his over 81 million followers.
At a TED event later on Thursday, Musk acknowledged that he is “not sure” he’ll actually be able to acquire the company, but he made the offer because he believes “it’s very important for there to be an inclusive arena for free speech.” He suggested the website should have an open-source algorithm and make any changes to people’s tweets — promotions, demotions, and edits to a tweet after publishing — visible to users.
Musk is at the top of Forbes’ “The Real-Time Billionaires List,” with a net worth of over $270 billion.
As of Thursday afternoon, shares were trading well below Musk’s $54.20 offer price, suggesting investors had little confidence in his proposal. Tesla was down modestly.
Musk, who currently owns about 9% of Twitter and is the company’s biggest shareholder, said Twitter needs to be “transformed as a private company.”
“I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” Musk is quoted as saying in the filing.
“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. “Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it.”
Twitter confirmed it had received the “unsolicited, non-binding” offer, which it said would be reviewed by its board.
On Sunday, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced Musk would not be joining the company’s board, despite his large investment in the company.
“I believe this is for the best,” Agrawal wrote in a statement. “We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on our Board or not.”
Musk had been appointed to Twitter’s board earlier, “contingent on a background check and formal acceptance,” according to Agrawal.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO is facing a lawsuit for not disclosing his initial investment in Twitter to the SEC sooner.
Musk has also had a longstanding battle with the SEC. In 2018, the regulator charged Musk with securities fraud for “misleading” tweets about his intention to take Tesla private at $420 per share. Musk settled for $40 million.
He also had to give up the Tesla board chair’s seat for three years and agreed to allow the company to preview any statement he intends to make about Tesla.
In February 2019, the SEC asked a judge to hold Musk in contempt over tweets misstating production targets for the carmaker, causing Tesla’s shares to fall by more than 3%. The tweets in question had not been reviewed by the company, as mandated by the 2018 settlement.
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman contributed reporting.