Elon Musk says deal to buy Twitter ‘temporarily on hold’

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The billionaire says the deal was temporarily on hold pending details over spam and fake Twitter accounts.

Billionaire Elon Musk has announced that his $44bn deal for Twitter Inc was temporarily on hold, citing pending details in support of calculation that spam and fake accounts indeed represent less than 5 percent of users.

“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5 percent of users,” Musk wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Two hours after his first tweet, Musk took to the platform again to say he was “still committed to acquisition”.

Shares of the social media company fell 17.7 percent to $37.10 in premarket trading, their lowest level since Musk disclosed his stake in the company in early April and subsequently made a “best and final” offer to take it private for $54.20 per share.

The implied probability of the deal closing at the agreed price fell below 50 percent for the first time on Tuesday, when Twitter shares dropped below $46.75.

Twitter had earlier this month estimated that false or spam accounts represented fewer than 5 percent of its monetisable daily active users during the first quarter, when it recorded 229 million users who were served advertising.

Controversial figure

Musk, the world’s richest man estimated to be worth $240bn by Forbes, is the head of both Tesla and SpaceX.

His entanglement with Twitter – and ensuing legal troubles – go back to at least 2018 when he tweeted that he had enough funds to take Tesla private – a claim that a judge decided was “false and misleading”.

His potential involvement in Twitter has raised many eyebrows since he announced his bid to take over, not least about the future status of former US President Donald Trump.

Trump was kicked off Twitter and other social networks following the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

On Wednesday, Musk said he would be open to lifting a ban on Trump’s account.

The social media company had said it faced several risks until the deal with Musk is closed, including whether advertisers would continue to spend on Twitter amid “potential uncertainty regarding future plans and strategy”.

Musk will have to pay a termination fee of $1bn if he walks away from the deal.