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As Musk tweets, advisers labor to keep Twitter deal on track

Michelle F. Davis, Liana Baker, Bloomberg News on

Published in Science & Technology News

In public, Elon Musk’s erratic tweets have sent Twitter Inc.’s shares flailing, as traders bet that the billionaire is preparing to walk away from or re-negotiate his $44 billion takeover of the social-media company. Behind the scenes, it’s more like business as usual, as advisers on both sides plug away at the day-to-day work of closing a megadeal.

One potential sign that the deal is still on track: the 139-page filing that hit early Tuesday, detailing how the offer came together and Twitter’s rationale for accepting it. That document was the result of weeks of coordinated work by both Musk and Twitter’s teams, according to people familiar with the matter. Musk himself signed off on the final version — complete with a deal price of $54.20 a share — before it was filed, the people said.

The situation is similar at the banks that promised to finance the transaction, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. While texts are flying among bankers in disbelief at Musk’s antics, their days are still filled with preparing documents needed to proceed with and close the purchase, the people said.

Some of Musk’s co-investors have also privately expressed surprise at the billionaire’s online outbursts and have been speculating about what they might mean.

Twitter’s board has tried to inject clarity into the situation by unanimously recommending that its shareholders approve the transaction. The directors added in a statement Tuesday to Bloomberg News, “We intend to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement.”

Public tumult

 

The disconnect between the public tumult around the transaction — including Twitter’s stock price — and the smoother private negotiations is yet another example of how Musk’s unconventional approach to dealmaking is shaping the process.

Musk’s tweet last Friday that the deal was on hold came as a surprise to advisers on both sides who had no idea he might be having second thoughts, the people said. Some advisers said they were trying to dismiss his tweets as “noise,” and advising colleagues to do the same, hoping that the world’s richest man is providing a form of entertainment rather than seriously reconsidering his plans.

Twitter’s shares fell 2.9% at 12:50 p.m. in New York Wednesday, remaining well below Musk’s buyout offer. They’ve closed down in eight of the last 12 trading sessions, ending Tuesday at $38.32 — almost 30% under the bid.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment. A representative for Musk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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