How many days until Donald Trump starts tweeting again? Twitter famously banned the twice impeached ex-president and finally pulled the pin on him in January 2021 after he incited his followers to attack the US Capitol Building and attempted to overturn an election he comprehensively lost.
This morning's announcement that Elon Musk will buy the company for $US44B immediately calls into question whether that ban will remain in place given Musk's statement that he is motivated by free speech.
Shortly before the deal was announced, the world's richest troll who describes himself as a free speech absolutist took to Twitter to remind everyone about his views, "I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means," Musk tweeted.
Twitter subsequently confirmed the sale with a statement, announcing it had entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk, for $54.20 per share in cash in a transaction, valuing the business at approximately $44 billion and confirming it will leave the market and trade as a private company.
It's not all good news for Trump though. Shares in the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that Trump and his backers were going to use to fund his own social network — ironically named TRUTH Social — have fallen as much as 44 percent since April 1st (no kidding) the day before Musk first revealed his 9 percent stake in the social media company.
The fall seems to have stung the occasionally petulant former President who told Fox News after the deal was announced, "I am not going on Twitter. I am going to stay on TRUTH," Trump told the outlet. "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."
Musk's acquisition dwarfs Microsoft's $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn in 2016 and Facebook's $18 billion purchase of WhatsApp in 2014, previously the largest social media players.
Under the terms of the agreement, Twitter stockholders will receive $54.20 in cash for each share of Twitter common stock that they own upon closing of the proposed transaction. The purchase price represents a 38 percent premium to Twitter's closing stock price on April 1, 2022, which was the last trading day before Musk disclosed his approximately 9 percent stake in Twitter.
The transaction, which has been unanimously approved by the Twitter Board of Directors, is expected to close in 2022, subject to the approval of Twitter stockholders, the receipt of applicable regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.
Bret Taylor, Twitter's Independent Board Chair, said, "The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon's proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing. The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter's stockholders."
Parag Agrawal, Twitter's CEO, said, "Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important."
"Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," said Musk.
"I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it."