In yet another U-turn, Elon Musk offered to proceed with a deal to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share Tuesday, a proposal that paves the way for the completion of his $44 billion takeover of the company and would avoid the continuation of a costly legal battle.
Musk had agreed to buy Twitter at that price in April before attempting to back out of the deal in July, claiming the social media company had misled him about the number of fake accounts, or “bots,” on the platform. Twitter then sued Musk in an attempt to force him to complete the acquisition, in a court case that was due to go to trial in Delaware on Oct. 17.
In an email to staff seen by TIME, Twitter’s General Counsel Sean Edgett said that the company intended to close the deal with Musk at $54.20 per share.
Twitter shares surged earlier Tuesday after Bloomberg News reported that Musk had offered to purchase the company on the original terms, before trading was temporarily halted shortly after midday. A regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission later appeared to confirm the news of Musk’s offer letter. Twitter’s shares closed more than 22% higher Tuesday, the biggest gain since his initial offer in April.
As the news broke, one Twitter employee described silence descending on the company’s internal Slack channels as employees digested the news. “We can’t talk badly about the deal or the company or share concerns and fears,” the person told TIME. “The chilling effect is real.”
Under the proposed deal, Twitter will become a private company under the sole control of Musk, who is also the owner of electric car company Tesla and rocket maker SpaceX.
Twitter shareholders approved Musk’s $44 billion offer at a September meeting, which would appear to leave little in the way of the deal being finalized.
The news came less than a week after hundreds of Musk’s personal text messages were made public as evidence in Twitter’s lawsuit, including some showing he knew about the problem of fake accounts on the platform before closing the deal. Some commentators had argued that Musk would struggle to convince the Delaware court that he had been misled on the issue of bots, given that Musk waived his right to further due diligence of the company in April.
Musk’s plans for Twitter are unclear, but he has previously said that under his ownership Twitter will restrict less political speech, “defeat” spam bots, and “open source” its ranking algorithms. He has suggested that he could allow Donald Trump to reclaim his account on the platform, which was indefinitely banned after Twitter determined the former president to have incited violence on Jan. 6, 2021.
—With reporting by Ayesha Javed
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