Elon Musk Offers To Buy 100% of Twitter In Cash

Elon Musk has made a controversial offer to buy Twitter Inc., saying the company has extraordinary potential and he is the person to unlock it.

The world’s richest person will offer $54.20 per share in cash, valuing Twitter at about $43 billion. The social media company’s shares initially soared in pre-market trading before falling slightly to about $48, after investors began to assess how one of the platform’s most outspoken users will succeed in his takeover attempt.

Musk, 50, announced the potential deal in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, after turning down a potential board seat at the company. The billionaire, who also controls Tesla Inc., first disclosed a stake of about 9% on April 4. Tesla shares fell about 2.1% in pre-market trading on the news.

Twitter said that its board would review the proposal and any response would be in the best interests of “all Twitter stockholders.”

The bid is the most high-stakes clash yet between Musk and the social media platform. The executive is one of Twitter’s most-watched firebrands, often tweeting out memes and taunts to @elonmusk’s more than 80 million followers. He has been vociferous about changes he’d like to consider imposing at the social media platform, and the company offered him a seat on the board following the announcement of his $3.35 billion stake.

Musk immediately began appealing to fellow users about prospective moves, from turning Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter and adding an edit button for tweets to granting automatic verification marks to premium users. One tweet suggested Twitter might be dying, given that several celebrities with high numbers of followers rarely tweet.

Unsatisfied with the influence that comes with being Twitter’s largest investor, he has now launched a full takeover, one of the few individuals who can afford it outright. He’s currently worth about $260 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, compared with Twitter’s market valuation of about $37 billion.

Although Musk is the world’s richest person, how he will find $43 billion in cash has yet to be revealed.

“This becomes a hostile takeover offer which is going to cost a serious amount of cash,” said Neil Campling, head of TMT research at Mirabaud Equity Research. “He will have to sell a decent piece of Tesla stock to fund it, or a massive loan against it.”

Much of Musk’s ire against Twitter has been directed against what he perceives as censorship by the platform. In a letter to Twitter’s board alongside details regarding his offer, Musk said he believes Twitter: “will neither thrive nor serve [its free speech] societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company”

Musk is offering a 54% premium over the Jan. 28 closing price, the date after which he began building his initial stake in Twitter. The takeover is unlikely to be a drawn-out process.

“If the deal doesn’t work, given that I don’t have confidence in management nor do I believe I can drive the necessary change in the public market, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” said Musk.

Image from Bloomberg.com

Musk informed Twitter’s board over the previous weekend that he thought the company should be taken private, according to today’s statement.

The $54.20 per share offer is “too low” for shareholders or the board to accept, said Vital Knowledge’s Adam Crisafulli in a report, adding that the company’s shares hit $70 less than a year ago.

Although Musk said his offer was “best and final,” it opens the gates to rivals, either to team up or out-bid his offer. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, also on the board of Tesla, previously attempted to buy a stake in social media platform TikTok.

Musk has hired Morgan Stanley as his adviser for the bid. The offer price also includes the number 420, widely recognized as a coded reference to marijuana. He also picked $420 as the share price for possibly taking Tesla private in 2018, a move that brought him scrutiny from the SEC.

“There will be host of questions around financing, regulatory, balancing Musk’s time (Tesla, SpaceX) in the coming days,” said Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush. “But ultimately based on this filing it is a now or never bid for Twitter to accept.”

Musk said:

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.

However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.

As a result, 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. My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder.

Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it.

Reporting from Bloomberg.