For the Twitter takeover, the Tesla BOSS must bring collateral.
New York Tesla CEO Elon Musk has sold more big packets of Tesla stock in the middle of his Twitter takeover attempt. He parted with a total of about 9.6 million shares of the electric car manufacturer this week, taking about $ 8.4 billion, according to documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). But after that, no further sales are planned for the time being, he wrote on Twitter on Friday night.
Musk did not give reasons in the documents for the share sales that took place in several large transactions. According to the announcement to the SEC, the tech billionaire raised 4.4 million Tesla shares on Tuesday and Wednesday, and another 5.2 million on Thursday. In the fall, Musk had already parted ways with Tesla shares worth more than $16 billion – mostly to pay due taxes on redeemed stock options.
However, he has now committed to raising up to $21 billion of his own funds for the Twitter purchase. How exactly he plans to lift them is still unclear. Musk still holds a good 168 million Tesla shares after the recent sale. With part of this, he wants to secure a loan of 12.5 billion dollars, which will also be used to finance the Twitter deal.
Musk made a total of $46.5 billion in financing commitments for the Twitter purchase. He agreed to the takeover with the online service, but is still dependent on enough shareholders to give him his shares at the price of $ 54.20.
Musk wants to make the $ 44 billion Twitter purchase a financial success as soon as possible. He has told banks financing the takeover that he can cut executive salaries and find new ways to monetize tweets, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters. This was part of his presentation to financial institutions to secure funds for the billion-dollar purchase.
Controversy over freedom of speech
The tech billionaire explains his interest in Twitter by saying that freedom of speech is restricted on the platform. He wants to change that. This puts him in line with conservatives, corona skeptics and supporters of ex-President Donald Trump in the US, who all complain of “censorship” on Twitter. On Friday night, Musk also revealed his political views a little further by tweeting: he supported President Barack Obama at the time, “but today’s Democratic Party has been hijacked by extremists”.
There is some skepticism among market watchers regarding Musk’s announcements. Elias Groll of the influential US think tank Brookings Institution believes that if the purchase by Musk comes about, which is not yet certain, ” this will represent an uncertain new era in the history of the platform”. Groll goes on to say, “Musk may find that his visions collide harshly with the difficult realities that come with running a global social media platform.“
Apparently, Musk wants to return to an earlier version of Twitter with looser rules for content control, according to Groll. However, this increases the risk of “Nazi outbursts, racist attacks, medical misinformation and rape threats” on the platform. It’s unclear how Musk will respond.
“Although it is apostrophized as a struggle for ‘free speech’, this takeover is in fact a struggle for the moderation of content,” explains Mike Proulx of Research house Forrester. Proulx considers it questionable “whether Musk will take action against disinformation and hate speech on Twitter”. The moderation of such content could fall victim to his anti-censorship campaign.
On Wall Street, Musk’s $44 billion acquisition is not expected to cause antitrust problems. However, as it became known on Thursday, Musk may have problems with the disclosure requirements for building up his initial nine percent stake in Twitter. This is reported by the US magazine “The Information”, citing insiders.
The US regulator FTC has therefore opened an investigation into whether Musk has violated his antitrust reporting obligation. In his first filing with the SEC, Musk had stated that he was acting as a passive investor. However, in view of his harsh criticism of Twitter management and the takeover plan announced shortly afterwards, this presentation is increasingly in question.