Elon Musk will buy Twitter in a $ 44 billion deal

The agreement, which will take the company privately, ends a whirlwind period in which Tesla and SpaceX CEO became one of Twitter’s largest shareholders, were offered and rejected a seat on the board and bids to buy the company – all in less than a month.

Under the terms of the agreement, shareholders will receive $ 54.20 in cash for each share of Twitter shares they own, matching Musk’s initial offer and marking a 38% premium over the share price the day before Musk unveiled its stake in the company.

“Freedom of expression is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital urban space where issues crucial to the future of humanity are discussed,” Musk said in a statement Monday. “Twitter has enormous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the user community to unlock it.”

The deal, which was unanimously approved by Twitter’s board, is expected to close this year. That comes after Musk last week revealed he had raised $ 46.5 billion in funding to acquire the company, an apparent turning point that forced Twitter’s board to seriously consider the deal. The board met Sunday to evaluate Musk’s offer.

“Twitter’s board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to evaluate Elon’s proposal with a conscious focus on value, security and financing,” said Twitter’s independent chairman, Bret Taylor, in a statement calling the deal “the best way forward for Twitter shareholders.” ”

Twitter shares rose nearly 6% after the announcement of the deal, hovering around $ 51.84, just back for the offer price. The deal is awaiting approval from shareholders and regulators.

In an internal message to employees that CNN has received, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said he would hold a meeting with Taylor on Monday afternoon to answer questions about the deal. “I know this is a significant change and you will probably address what this means for you and Twitter’s future,” he said.

What Musk means to Twitter

Musk is both a high-profile Twitter user and a controversial one. He has more than 83 million followers on the platform, which he has used over the years for everything from sharing memes and discussing his businesses to insulting politicians, spreading misleading allegations about Covid-19 and making offensive remarks about the transgender community.

Musk has repeatedly stressed in recent days that his goal is to strengthen freedom of expression on the platform and work to “unlock” Twitter’s “extraordinary potential.”

A whistleblower holds an envelope.

In his statement Monday, Musk said he wants to “make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeat spambots and authenticate all people.” Separately, he said in a tweet Monday that he hopes, “even my worst critics stay on Twitter, because that’s what free speech means.”

Still, some industry experts worry that Musk’s desire for free speech on Twitter could mean rolling back some of the platform’s work to stem hate speech, misinformation, harassment and other harmful content. Others questioned whether Musk could restore former President Donald Trump’s account, which was removed early last year for violating Twitter’s policies to incite violence after the Capitol riot. Such a move could have significant consequences for the upcoming US presidential election in 2024.

Although Twitter is less than some social media rivals, it has an overall impact in the online and offline worlds because it is used by many politicians, public figures and journalists and has sometimes served as a model for other platforms in how to deal with malicious content. .

“Do not allow Twitter to become a petition for hate speech or lies that undermine our democracy,” Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, said in a statement addressed to Musk Monday after the deal.

A new and uncertain era for Twitter

In the days after Musk’s first bid, many wondered if Twitter would try to find another buyer, especially after the company introduced a poison pill to make it harder for Musk to acquire the company without its approval.

But CFRA senior equities analyst Angelo Zino said Monday that Twitter’s board is more seriously considering Musk’s offer may have come “from the board’s recognition that an alternative bid from a ‘white knight’ may be difficult to come by, especially after falling asset prices from social media companies in recent weeks / months. “

It is not clear whether Agrawal – who took over the CEO role from founder Jack Dorsey in November – will remain in the top job after the takeover. Musk previously tweeted a meme comparing Agrawal to former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Musk also said in his offer letter to buy Twitter that he does not “trust management.”

However, the deal could put an end to nearly a decade of chaos on Twitter as a public company, where it has cycled through CEOs, struggled with an activist investor and struggled to ignite growth and successfully monetize its influential user base.

Agrawal said in Monday’s statement that “Twitter has a purpose and relevance that affects the whole world,” he added: “Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important.”

CNN Business tech reporter Clare Duffy can be contacted at clare.duffy@cnn.com.

CNN’s Brian Stelter and Donie O’Sullivan contributed to this report.

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