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Elon Musk put his $44 billion Twitter buyout 'on hold.' He could be trying for a...

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Elon Musk put his $44 billion Twitter buyout 'on hold.' He could be trying for a better price, buying himself time — or preparing to scrap the deal altogether.

OPINION: Media activist shares how Musk could change Twitter
 Elon Musk is not buying Twitter for financial reasons. 
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Elon Musk put his $44 billion Twitter buyout 'on hold.' He could be trying for a better price, buying himself time — or preparing to scrap the deal altogether.

Isobel Asher Hamilton
Mon, May 16, 2022, 9:17 PM·3 min read
Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, attends the opening of the Tesla factory Berlin Brandenburg in Gruenheide, Germany
Elon Musk.Patrick Pleul/AP
  • Elon Musk said Friday he'd put his $44 billion Twitter buyout "on hold."

  • Experts say it could be a negotiation tactic to get a better price.

  • Some say Musk could be maneuvering to abandon the deal altogether.

Elon Musk's proposed $44 billion acquisition of Twitter took another surprising turn Friday when the billionaire tweeted the deal was "temporarily on hold" while he scrutinized the number of fake and spam accounts on the platform.

The timing was puzzling. Musk's tweet cited a Reuters report on a Twitter filing that was ten days old at the time, and which didn't contain any new information about fake accounts.

In a note to clients Monday, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said pressure on Tesla stock, a volatile market, and deal financing issues suggested Musk had got "cold feet" about the buyout, and could be using the fake accounts issue as a "scapegoat to push for a lower price."

Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein, told CNBC that Musk putting the deal on hold was "probably a negotiation tactic" amid a broad sell-off in tech stocks.

Several analysts agree that Musk could be trying to push for a lower price. Some suggest his fake accounts tweet could be a pretext to abandoning the deal altogether.

"Unless Twitter grossly misreported data — which would be a serious security fraud — this might be a way to either negotiate a lower price or walk away," Stefano Bonini, corporate governance expert at Stevens Institute of Technology, told the Financial Times. Two analysts also told the FT they believed Musk was trying to leverage a better price.

Before Musk tweeted he was putting the deal on hold, short-seller Hindenburg research speculated he was in a strong position to reprice the deal.

Musk could insisted in a follow-up tweet on Friday that he was "still committed" to the Twitter deal. But his current offer rests in part on a $12.5 billion loan against his Tesla stock — and Tesla's stock price has sunk more than 20% since he went public with his bid.


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