Ask HN: What happened to Twitter poison pill?
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Ask HN: What happened to Twitter poison pill?
Ask HN: What happened to Twitter poison pill? 62 points by rukshn 2 hours ago | hide | past | favorite | 42 comments Last week it was said that Twitter's directors will take a poison pill instead of selling Twitter to Elon Musk.
What caused the board to change the direction 180 and now closing the deal with Musk?
Can anyone shed a light on that, I didn't see anyone talking about this.
The board is negotiating an approved takeover which is entirely different
I.e. the board was saying “you can only buy Twitter if we say so”
There was no reversal of intentions
However they are quite happy to let Musk buy all of them out (owning 100%) at a reasonable price then let him do whatever marketshare-tanking moves he wishes. They don’t actually care about the fate of the company, they just don’t want to lose money.
Elon's next move was a tender offer which put the issue in front of shareholders for an up/down vote on a full buyout, which would sidestep any board poison pil.
The rumor is that the offer to be accepted is the same, so it wouldn’t have worked as intended, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth trying.
It however takes shareholders to want to buy more. Twitter is quite undefended. Poison pill was never going to be effective in any major way. At most they were going to delay the inevitable here.
The media coverage of the poison pill was pretty bad, this was not going to be effective at stopping anything. The bigger news is why is Twitter so undefended. It makes sense from Jack Dorsey's pov, he was backing off. However even a saudi prince incorrectly believed he still owned twitter stock. It's super unusual for a S&P500 company to be so undefended.
Yet worse, something that I have never seen happen, there are a ton of S&P500 companies that are undefended. This isn't true in other country indexes. What made the US stock market so offensive? I checked all my US holdings and somehow each of them are healthy with the only exception being Tyson. The stock market is going to blow up?
DOW is down -7% YTD. S&P500 is down -11% YTD. With inflation at 8.5%, those are down alot.
He secured financing for the deal.
They also probably wanted to buy time for a counter-offer to show up at a higher price.
It eventually drifted up, but you see other companies where a hostile takeover offer is cause to halt trading due to how fast the price spikes…. Which did not happen for Twitter. Twitter is not a “blue chip” stock which people expect stability from, perhaps even a gasp dividend… but nope, it’s a tech stock with none of that… yet is weirdly stable. That’s screams “complacency” to me and complacency is fertile ground for business, either by outside forces via hostile takeover and new management or a new disruption from a new market entrance. Given the network effect pressure it’s obvious that hostile takeover looks, at least from a “running the business” perspective, to be an obvious move.
Like many business decisions it just looks to me like “who will gamble on a bet this big”… and these days it’s individual billionaires who can afford to make bets like this. It’s a second golden age of capitalism, and I’m looking forward to the next Great Depression and the much needed cultural rest wth respect to assholes with too much money.
No, it's a reflection of uncertainty over whether it will happen. Present value is not the offer price, since it's not guaranteed, and also accounts for the time for the deal to close - $54 in a year isn't worth $54 today. Regulatory risk isn't a big deal here, but is elsewhere, like ATVI trading at a significant discount to MSFT's offer.
TWTR is up significantly today since there's a binding deal now.
There were doubts about the bid. Musk had no financing. Now he has financing. The market has moved.
If he’d come back last week with a “tee hee jk” tweet about buying Twitter, everyone would have taken it in stride and then mocked those who bought the rumour to get run over by the news.
2) The valuation is not the only thing the board and Musk need to agree to. There are break up terms, ability to accept a higher offer if one materializes, liability in case of funding breakdowns, antitrust assurances, etc etc. So again, any leverage is useful.
This led Twitter's board to take his offer more seriously and many shareholders to ask the company not to let the opportunity for a deal slip away .
The poison pill left “Musk two main options. One is to negotiate with Twitter’s board and try to strike a friendly deal. This might be hard because the board probably wants more money than Musk is willing to pay, and also because there seem to be strategic and personal disagreements between Musk and the board that might make friendly negotiations difficult. ‘I am not playing the back-and-forth game,’ Musk said in his initial proposal; ‘I have moved straight to the end.’ That’s an annoying way to start negotiations.
His other option is to pressure the board into dropping the pill, and the classic way to do that is with a tender offer plus a proxy fight, as we discussed yesterday:
1. Musk can launch a tender offer to buy all of Twitter's stock for $54.20 in cash. (Or, of course, some higher number.) The tender offer is a public, binding document filed with the SEC, open to all shareholders, and it will be full of disclosures about his plans and, in particular, his financing. Shareholders will be able to read it and see if he has the money. If it looks like he does, then they will be able to decide if $54.20 is a good enough price. If they think it is, they will be able to tender into his offer, submitting their shares for purchase. He won’t be able to buy them, though, because of the poison pill; the tender offer will be contingent on getting rid of the pill. But if like 90% of shareholders tender into his offer, then that is an important public-relations victory; he can go to the board and say “your shareholders want this deal, let them take it.” And then the board might agree and get rid of the pill, and then the tender offer can close and he can buy the shares.
2. Meanwhile, he can also try to get shareholders to vote their shares in a way that gets rid of the pill. Classically, the way to do this is to run a proxy fight to kick out the existing directors and replace them with Musk’s chosen directors, who would get rid of the pill and let him close his deal. Musk can’t really do that here, because of Twitter’s corporate structure, but he can run some sort of informal symbolic proxy fight where he urges Twitter’s shareholders to vote against the directors who are up for election in May, or where he urges them to vote to declassify Twitter’s board so it’s easier to kick the directors out in the future. If 90% of shareholders vote with him for these things, that’s another sign to the board that the shareholders want his deal and should be allowed to take it.
These things do not work automatically; even if 90% of shareholders tendered into Musk’s offer and voted with him at the annual meeting, the board could still tell him to buzz off. It could easily do that if it found another bidder willing to pay a higher price, but it could also legally do that even without a higher bid; the law tends to defer to the board’s business judgment about whether or not to accept a merger offer. But most of the time directors care about what their shareholders think, and if all the shareholders want Musk’s $54.20 then it’s embarrassing for the board not to give it to them.” 
TL; DR The poison pill forces Musk to negotiate with the Board.
„Things that must be true if Twitter’s board is ready to accept @elonmusk’s offer:
1) they did a soft market check and there were no other bidders.
2) @Jack is on board.
3) the pressure campaign worked.“ (cont.)
Therefore, the board engaging with his bid to buy twitter, and the two of them only negotiating that way, was the goal. So it's not a 180.
The board was originally hesitant to engage because even Elon Musk could have a lot of trouble raising $44 billion in cash. They didn't want to agree to a deal that didn't go through (like trying to buy a house without cash or preapproval). He seems to have secured loans to actually pay for Twitter, so now they are seriously engaging.
It is ludicrous to believe that, even if this were true BEFORE the Musk bid came in, they were not consulting with corporate counsel AFTER and in conjunction with issuing the poison pill.
As others have said, it is frequently used as a negotiating tactic and will usually pop up somewhere along the way in any unsolicited takeover situation. Just like the simple act of saying "no" is often a negotiating tactic and not a true statement of someone's unwavering intent.
If Elon buys Twitter, what happens to the board? Well, he can fire them all. They may prefer to remain board members, with the money and power that comes from that. So the poison pill, while it may be offered in the name of "protecting" the existing shareholders, is really a way for the existing board to remain in power.
But that won't work if the offer is good enough that the existing shareholders want to take it. Then the poison pill becomes something the shareholders don't like, because it prevented them from doing what they want. Depending on how badly the existing shareholders wanted the offer, the board may not remain in power that way either.
Note well: There may be details in the way all this went down that don't fit in my cynical little narrative. But absent knowledge of those details, this is my suspicion of what's really driving the poison pill.
It is artificial dilution, which in practice makes it possible for the board to cause heavy short-term losses to anyone attempting a hostile takeover: the market reaction to dilution is predictably a lowering of the going price of the stock unless the news comes with significant and credible hype about future profits.
The risk of this happening is what is thought to stave off the takeover.
This poison pill does not strengthen Twitter board members' ownership because they don't own much Twitter stock.
The thing to keep in mind in all of this is none of this was ever about what's best for the users (current ownership vs. new ownership). It was always about whether the existing owners would get screwed in the takeover. User welfare barely enters into the story.
This is France and Germany hammering out the details of who owns Alsace–Lorraine; Twitter users themselves are just Alsace–Lorraine peasant-farmers.
In the case of a non "hostile" takeover, meaning the board approves the takeover price there is no poison pill to be used.
Functionally, a stock split for everyone but Musk. Hence, poison pill.
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