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Twitter says it will sue Elon Musk after he sends letter seeking to end $44B acquisition deal

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Elon Musk’s tumultuous $44 billion US bid to buy Twitter is on the verge of collapse after the Tesla CEO sent a letter to Twitter’s board saying he is terminating the acquisition.

The chair of Twitter’s board, Bret Taylor, tweeted Friday that the board is “committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk and plans to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement. We are confident we will prevail in the Delaware Court of Chancery.”

Twitter could have pushed for a $1 billion US breakup fee Musk agreed to pay under these circumstances. Instead, it looks ready to fight over the deal, which the company’s board has approved and CEO Parag Agrawal has insisted he wants to consummate.

The possible unraveling of the deal is just the latest twist in a saga between the world’s richest man and one of the most influential social media platforms.

Much of the drama has played out on Twitter, with Musk — who has more than 95 million followers — lamenting that the company was failing to live up to its potential as a platform for free speech.

On Friday, shares of Twitter fell five per cent to $36.81 US, well below the $54.20 US that Musk had offered to pay. Shares of Tesla, meanwhile, climbed 2.5 per cent to $752.29 US.

In a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk said Twitter has “not complied with its contractual obligations” surrounding the deal, namely giving Musk enough information to “make an independent assessment of the prevalence of fake or spam accounts on Twitter’s platform.”

Major shareholder

Musk’s flirtation with buying Twitter appeared to begin in late March. That’s when Twitter has said he contacted members of its board — including co-founder Jack Dorsey — and told them he was buying up shares of the company and interested in either joining the board, taking Twitter private or starting a competitor.

Then, on April 4, he revealed in a regulatory filing that he had became the company’s largest shareholder after acquiring a nine per cent stake worth about $3 billion US.

At first, Twitter offered Musk a seat on its board. But six days later, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted that Musk would not be joining the board after all. His bid to buy the company came together quickly after that.

WATCH | Musk’s Twitter deal prompts concerns: 

Elon Musk’s Twitter deal prompts free speech debate

Calling himself a “free speech absolutist,” Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover deal is reigniting the debate around freedom of speech on social media platforms. Some fear that under Musk’s ownership, Twitter could be exploited as a platform to spread disinformation and monitor critics.

Musk had agreed to buy Twitter for $54.20 US per share, inserting a “420” marijuana reference into his offer price.

He sold roughly $8.5 billion US worth of shares in Tesla to help fund the purchase, then strengthened his commitments of more than $7 billion US from a diverse group of investors including Silicon Valley heavy hitters like Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.

Inside Twitter, Musk’s offer was met with confusion and falling morale, especially after Musk publicly criticized one of Twitter’s top lawyers involved in content-moderation decisions.

As Twitter executives prepared for the deal to move forward, the company instituted a hiring freeze, halted discretionary spending and fired two top managers. The San Francisco company has also been laying off staff, most recently part of its talent acquisition team.

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