A drop in Twitter's stock price and Elon Musk's repeated assertions that he needs more information about fake accounts to proceed with his takeover have raised the prospect that the billionaire will try to renegotiate a lower purchase price for the platform.
Musk tweeted early Tuesday morning that his takeover cannot move forward until the platform provides information about the number of spam or fake accounts on the platform. Musk said they could be at least 20% of the accounts on the site, but Twitter said they are less than 5%.
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"You can't pay the same price for something that is much worse than they claimed," Musk said on Monday at the All-In Summit 2022 conference in Miami.
Asked if the Twitter deal is possible at a different price, Musk said, "I mean, it is not out of the question. The more questions I ask, the more my concerns grow."
Twitter's share price fell nearly 8% on Monday, leaving it at $36.01, approximately 30% below the $54.20 a share that Musk had agreed to pay for the company. Most of the Twitter stock drop came before Musk’s comments about paying a lower price for the social media giant.
Financial analysts said that if the number of spam accounts on Twitter is significantly more than the 5% of accounts that the platform claims, Musk could be justified in seeking a lower price.
"If Twitter had been lying about this and the number is actually 20% [spam bots], then you take whatever the market feels the value is and you subtract 15%," Gene Munster, managing partner at venture capital firm Loup Ventures, said on CNBC.
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A move to renegotiate the deal would be in keeping with Musk's approach throughout his pursuit of Twitter. He has demonstrated a willingness to use aggressive tactics, such as his attack on the Securities and Exchange Commission, claiming it unfairly targets him with investigations, as well as his combative attempts to change Twitter in the past few months, including through criticism of its CEO.
Musk would face a $1 billion breakup fee if he doesn’t follow through with the Twitter deal, according to the contract terms, although the platform can also sue to force him to take over the company unless he can provide evidence of any significant information that the company did not reveal at the time of the $44 billion deal being struck.