Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently bought a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter and thus became its biggest shareholder, has upped the ante in his bid for control over the social media giant with a new offer: to buy the company for $54.20 a share, which amounts to about $43 billion.
Musk wrote a letter to Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor on Wednesday saying that he had invested in Twitter because “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,” Musk declared in the letter, which was included in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
“As a result, I am offering to buy 100 percent of Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, a 54 percent premium over the day before I began investing in Twitter and a 38 percent premium over the day before my investment was publicly announced,” the billionaire continued.
Musk threatened to yank his investment if Twitter rejects his offer, saying he would “need to reconsider [his] position as a shareholder.”
(The Tesla CEO insisted in a phone call with Taylor on Wednesday that his threat was “not a threat,” according to a script of the call in the SEC filing.)
“Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it,” Musk wrote in his letter.
Twitter confirmed on Thursday that it had received the “unsolicited, non-binding proposal” from Musk.
“The Twitter Board of Directors will carefully review the proposal to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the Company and all Twitter stockholders,” the company said in a statement.
Musk’s offer came several days after Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced that the billionaire had reversed his decision to join Twitter’s board of directors. Agrawal’s announcement did not provide an explanation for Musk’s about-face, though the billionaire had been publicly critical of the company.
However, CNBC noted on Monday that if Musk had joined the board, he wouldn’t have been able to own more than 14.9 percent of Twitter’s shares.
Republicans had rejoiced last week over news of Musk’s possible appointment to the board, believing that he’d be able to use the position to pressure Twitter into restoring ex-President Donald Trump’s cherished account.
If Twitter accepts Musk’s offer, then the Tesla CEO, who’s repeatedly railed against online “censorship,” could be poised to do just that.