By Greg Roumeliotis
NEW YORK (Reuters) –Twitter Inc is poised to agree a sale to Elon Musk for around $43 billion in cash, the price the CEO of Tesla has called his “best and final” offer for the social media company, people familiar with the matter said.
Twitter may announce the $54.20-per-share deal later on Monday once its board has met to recommend the transaction to Twitter shareholders, the sources said, adding it was still possible the deal could collapse at the last minute.
Musk, the world’s richest person according to Forbes, is negotiating to buy Twitter in a personal capacity and Tesla is not involved in the deal.
Twitter has not been able to secure so far a ‘go-shop’ provision under its agreement with Musk that would allow it to solicit other bids once the deal is signed, the sources said. Still, Twitter would be allowed to accept an offer from another party by paying Musk a break-up fee, the sources added.
The sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential. Twitter and Musk did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Twitter shares were up 4.5% in pre-market trading in New York at $51.15.
Musk, a prolific Twitter user, has said it needs to be taken private to grow and become a genuine platform for free speech.
The 50-year-old entrepreneur, who is also CEO of rocket developer SpaceX, has said he wants to combat trolls on Twitter and proposed changes to the Twitter Blue premium subscription service, including slashing its price and banning advertising.
The billionaire, a vocal advocate of cryptocurrencies, has also suggested adding dogecoin as a payment option on Twitter.
He has said Twitter’s current leadership team is incapable of getting the company‘s stock to his offer price on its own, but stopped short of saying it needs to be replaced.
“The company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form,” Musk said in his offer letter last week.
Up to the point Musk disclosed a stake in Twitter in April, the company’s shares had fallen about 10% since Parag Agrawal took over as CEO from founder Jack Dorsey in late November.
The deal, if it happens, would come just four days after Musk unveiled a financing package to back the acquisition.
This led Twitter’s board to take his offer more seriously and many shareholders to ask the company not to let the opportunity for a deal slip away, Reuters reported on Sunday. Before Musk revealed the financing package, Twitter’s board was expected to reject the bid, sources had said.
The sale would represent an admission by Twitter that Agrawal is not making enough traction in making the company more profitable, despite being on track to meet ambitious financial goals the company set for 2023. Twitter’s shares were trading higher than Musk’s offer price as recently as November.
Musk unveiled his intention to buy Twitter on April 14 and take it private via a financing package comprised of equity and debt. Wall Street’s biggest lenders, except those advising Twitter, have all committed to provide debt financing.
Musk’s negotiating tactics – making one offer and sticking with it – resembles how another billionaire, Warren Buffett, negotiates acquisitions. Musk did not provide any financing details when he first disclosed his offer for Twitter, making the market skeptical about its prospects.
(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York, additional reporting by Krystal Hu;Editing by Mark Potter)