Traders gather around a post as Twitter shares resume trading on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York on Tuesday. (Seth Wenig, Associated Press)
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SALT LAKE CITY — In a saga that’s been running for the entirety of 2022, Tesla/SpaceX CEO and world’s richest human Elon Musk has revived his $44 billion offer to buy social media giant Twitter and, if he keeps at least one of his past promises, former President Donald Trump could be headed back to the platform.
The about-face comes after months of wrangling that began with Musk buying up stock in the company (January 2022), then offering to buy the company (April), then reneging on the offer (July 8), arguing that Twitter hadn’t met its disclosure duties when it comes to identifying the number of fake or “bot” accounts on the platform.
Twitter called shenanigans on that argument and filed a lawsuit against Musk (July 12), looking to compel him to follow through with the deal or pay some very hefty penalties.
So, the Twitter deal is back on?
Musk and Twitter were just a couple of weeks away from the launch of their legal battle in a Delaware specialty court when it was disclosed on Tuesday in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing that Musk’s legal team had proposed a do-over to Twitter’s lawyers. Not surprisingly, Twitter accepted.
The exchange puts the deal back on its original terms wherein Musk will cash out Twitter stockholders at $54.20 per share, the number behind the $44 billion buyout figure.
While Musk lawyers have asked that all legal proceedings come to a halt, including his previously scheduled deposition that was set to begin on Thursday, Twitter has yet to call off the lawsuit.
What’s done is not yet done
Twitter’s stock value has taken a beating amid all the uncertainty surrounding the deal status and legal squabbles, but it shot up on Tuesday, following a brief trading halt.
But, industry experts say it’s too soon for Twitter to declare victory in its running skirmish with Musk.
There is still plenty of uncertainty around what Musk intends to do with Twitter, as well as the future of a company with a leader who has wavered in his commitment to buying it.
–Jasmine Enberg, an analyst with Insider Intelligence
“The deal will solve some of the short-term uncertainty at the company, but Twitter is essentially in the same place it was in April,” Jasmine Enberg, an analyst with Insider Intelligence, told the Associated Press. “There is still plenty of uncertainty around what Musk intends to do with Twitter, as well as the future of a company with a leader who has wavered in his commitment to buying it. And if we’ve learned anything from this saga, it’s that Musk is unpredictable and that it isn’t over yet.”
If the deal closes, will Donald Trump end up back on Twitter?
Musk has declared himself a “free-speech absolutist” and been highly critical of Twitter’s policies when it comes to policing content on the platform. In May, Musk said he was likely to reverse the permanent ban on Trump that was announced just days after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Twitter’s assessment at the time identified two Trump tweets that led to the lifetime ban after the company determined the content was “likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on Jan. 6.”
If Trump is allowed to return to the platform, it’s not clear if the almost 90 million followers he had before getting the boot would be reinstated along with his account.
Earlier this year, and following news of Musk’s initial offer to buy Twitter, Trump said even if the opportunity to rejoin the Twitter-verse was forthcoming, he would be a hard pass. Instead, Trump said, he’d focus on communicating with the world via his new social media platform, Truth Social.
“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on Truth,” Trump told Fox News in April. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on Truth.”