Elon Musk: Deal Is Deal - Or Not?

Elon Musk no longer wants to buy Twitter. But he won't be able to get out of the number that easily, experts say: The case threatens to end up in court.

Does the Twitter sale burst? So now Elon Musk no longer wants to acquire Twitter. The founder of Tesla and SpaceX offered 44 billion US dollars for the short message service. On Friday came the bang, which came as little surprise to experts: because Twitter had violated takeover conditions and made “false and misleading statements”, Musk no longer wanted to buy. So it is in a lawyer 's letter published by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The dispute is not new. There has been a takeover agreement since April. But already in May, Musk had surprisingly suspended the negotiations for the time being . It's about how many real users are registered on Twitter . And how many of the accounts are bot or spam profiles. This question should play a role because: If you want to make money with advertising, you need real people who see these ads. Twitter puts the proportion of bot and spam accounts at less than five percent of its user base. Musk suspects it could be much higher, around 20 percent - and questioned the information provided by Twitter after the acquisition agreement was signed.

Twitter Takeover
Elon Musk Doesn't Want
To Buy Twitter After All

So the tech entrepreneur asked for evidence that went beyond the information already available from the company. To clarify the question, Twitter had given Musk access to a massive collection of data in early June so that they could get an accurate picture of the situation. And tried again and again  to attach appropriate documents . The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the deal was still in jeopardy because the information received was unsatisfactory.

It's not that easy

The problem now is: Musk, who is known for sometimes wild tricks and broad-legged announcements, cannot easily call off the takeover of Twitter. The entrepreneur and the social media service have already signed an agreement that sets out many of the details for the takeover. Among other things, there is a penalty of one billion US dollars that is due if the deal does not go through. According to experts, however, this rule applies in the event that external influences prevent the deal, for example if Musk's banks withdrew the financing or if Twitter accepted the offer of another buyer. There's also a special performance clause that Twitter can use to court-order Musk to go through with the deal. 

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However, if Musk and his lawyers now argue with the unclear proportion of bots in the Twitter user base in order to burst the deal, they are treading on uneven legal ground, since Twitter has long publicly announced that around five percent of its profiles bots are. Means: Musk could have known about it before submitting his purchase offer. The New York Times now writes : To claim that this disclosure is intentionally misleading represents "a very high hurdle" from a legal point of view.

Several observers therefore argue that a withdrawal could end up costing Musk more than the billion. Musk signed a binding agreement. This does not contain any exceptions for the assumption that there are too many bots, tweeted the lawyer and Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine. US economics professor Scott Galloway also said it could be very expensive for Musk if the case ended up in court. 

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The company Twitter has already signaled that it wants to enforce the takeover agreement in court if necessary. Chairman Bret Taylor announced via its own platform that it intends to complete the transaction and enforce the merger agreement as agreed. Legal action is also planned. So there is a risk of a lengthy court case for the short message service, whose business has never flourished like that of other social media. Twitter has therefore been under pressure for years and has now even started to lay off employees. Many experts consider the dispute over the bots to be an excuse for Musk to wriggle out of the deal or renegotiate it.

Because Twitter's stock has been declining for some time and now costs significantly less than the $ 54.20 that Musk had bid. Since the founder of Tesla and SpaceX announced that he no longer wanted to buy, the price fell even further and lost another five percent on Friday.

So what's next for Twitter? It would be conceivable on the one hand - with Musk you never know - that he wants to push the price down again with the maneuver. On the other hand, there is still much to suggest that the billionaire just wants out of the deal.

Make Twitter a cash cow? Not easy

And it's not just because of the falling stock prices: Twisting Twitter's business model so that the company becomes a cash cow is extremely complicated. Pushing through Musk's idea of ​​free speech on Twitter, which has been propagated in the meantime, is likely to be tricky, for example against the background of European regulations.

Quite apart from the fact that Musk has several other companies to lead that urgently need his attention. The electric car manufacturer Tesla, for example. There is some evidence that his idea of ​​buying Twitter wasn't really thought through to the end.

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