Elon Musk Threatens to Abandon Twitter Takeover
By Adedapo Adesanya
In the latest drama emanating from his planned takeover of Twitter, the world’s richest man, Mr Elon Musk, has threatened to withdraw his bid to buy the social media company, accusing it of failing to provide data on fake accounts.
Twitter has committed “a clear material breach” of its “obligations under the merger agreement and Mr Musk reserves his right not to consummate the transaction,” according to a document filed with securities regulators in the United States yesterday.
The filing marks an escalation of Mr Musk’s prior statements that have highlighted fake accounts as a threat to his proposed $44 billion deal to take over Twitter.
Mr Musk has said that the real number of bots may be four times higher than Twitter estimates.
Bots can be used on social media to spread false news or create a distorted impression of how widely information is being consumed and shared.
Twitter chief executive, Mr Parag Agrawal has said that fewer than five per cent of accounts active on any given day at Twitter are bots, but that analysis cannot be replicated externally due to the need to keep user data private.
The Tesla billionaire has been dismissive of Twitter’s responses and reiterated that stance in Monday’s filing.
To execute the deal, Mr Musk “must have a complete and accurate understanding of the very core of Twitter’s business model — its active user base,” said the filing.
“Mr Musk believes Twitter is transparently refusing to comply with its obligations under the merger agreement, which is causing further suspicion that the company is withholding the requested data due to concern for what Mr Musk’s own analysis of that data will uncover.”
In May, Mr Musk tweeted that the “Twitter deal [was] temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users.”
It is not clear if this will be the end of the deal as the billionaire had initially acquired a 9.2 per cent stake in Twitter, to which he later said he was willing to pay $54.20 per share to buy 100 per cent of the company.
Mr Musk intended to borrow around $13 billion in various fashions; borrow $12.5 billion against his own equity holdings, and pay around $21 billion from his own holdings.