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Twitter reaches deal to sell to Elon Musk for about $44 billion

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing "Cyber Rodeo" grand opening party on April 7, 2022 in Austin, Texas.
Suzanne Cordeiro
/
AFP via Getty Images
Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing "Cyber Rodeo" grand opening party on April 7, 2022 in Austin, Texas.

Updated April 25, 2022 at 3:04 PM ET

Twitter has agreed to sell to Elon Musk, handing the world's richest man control of a social network that has far-reaching influence on politics and society.

Musk will pay $54.20 a share to take the social media company private, according to an announcement from Twitter, which gives Musk the company for about $44 billion.

The sale comes less than two weeks after Musk offered to buy Twitter, sending the company's board and management into crisis mode as they scrambled to figure out how serious Musk's intentions were and whether his offer fairly valued the company.

Musk has vowed to "unlock" Twitter's potential by loosening what he sees as unfair restrictions on free speech.

"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," he said in the announcement Monday.

The maverick entrepreneur is a prolific user and outspoken critic of Twitter, where he has more than 83 million followers and regularly posts memes, boosts his companies Tesla and SpaceX, and squabbles with critics.

Musk began accumulating Twitter shares in January. On April 4, he revealed he'd become the company's biggest individual shareholder. He began calling for changes to the platform, including loosening its rules over what users are allowed to post, banning bots that post spam, and making its algorithm public.

Musk tweeted on Monday, before the deal was announced, "I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means."

After accepting and then rejecting an invitation to join Twitter's board, Musk dropped a new bombshell with his unsolicited $54.20-a-share offer to buy the whole company and take it private.

But lack of details about how Musk would finance the deal left many skeptical that he was serious. Twitter's board appeared likely to reject it. Directors quickly adopted a so-called "poison pill" to discourage Musk from acquiring more shares and to buy itself time to consider his proposal and potential alternatives.

Then last week, Musk announced he had lined up the money to take Twitter private. In a regulatory filing, he said Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and several other banks promised to lend $25.5 billion, backed in part by some of Musk's Tesla shares, and that he would provide up to $21 billion in cash.

Those details may have shifted the board's view. While Twitter's stock hit highs above $70 a share last year, the company's shares had fallen below $40 in recent months, amid lingering questions over its ability to grow.

"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," said Bret Taylor, Twitter's Independent Board Chair, in a statement.

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