Elon Musk casts doubt on his takeover of Twitter, wanting details on fake accounts

“Twitter acquisition is on hold pending details that spam and fake accounts account for well under 5% of users,” Musk first wrote on the platform, where it has almost 93 million subscribers.

He then reiterated his commitment to acquiring the social network, but the market questioned his real intentions.

The stock began by plunging 25% on the heels of the suspension announcement before limiting its losses and ending the session down 9.7% on Wall Street.

The general manager of the social network, Parag Agrawal, assured during the day that he still expects the operation to materialize.

After initially opposing it, the social network’s board of directors accepted a $ 44 billion takeover offer made by the whimsical leader of South African origin at the end of April.

Mr. Musk notably promised to rid Twitter of spam, to authenticate users and to reinforce transparency without specifying how he intended to implement this project.

The company indicated at the beginning of May that it had, on average from January to March, 229 million daily users called monetizable, that is to say exposed to advertising.

She had estimated on this occasion that less than 5% of them were spam or fake accounts.

The proportion of fake accounts is “a key indicator” for Twitter, explains Susannah Streeter, market analyst for Hargreaves Lansdown, because “calculating the precise number of people who actually tweet is considered crucial for future revenue streams through advertising or paid subscriptions on the site.”

No “flirty comment”

Since the takeover bid by the boss of Tesla and SpaceX, Twitter’s market value has fallen by billions of dollars, following the same downward movement as most tech stocks on Wall Street.

The title ended Friday at just over 40 dollars, well below the 54.20 dollars proposed by the billionaire.

Management announced on Thursday the departure of two senior officials and the suspension of all non-essential hiring.

“While I expect the deal to be completed, we must be prepared for all scenarios and continue to act in the best interest of Twitter,” Parag Agrawal said Friday on the social network.

“I will also try to bring more transparency to the work we are doing,” he added. But that won’t go through “tweets on the + topic of the day + or the sexiest comment”.

With Elon Musk’s latest tweet, “Wall Street will now consider 1) the deal is about to fall through, 2) it’s an attempt by Musk to negotiate a lower purchase price or, 3) Musk simply wants to walk away from the deal with a $1 billion severance fee,” said Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities.

To finance the operation, the leader planned to resort to a considerable personal contribution, to request a bank loan as well as a margin loan in which he would pledge his Tesla shares as collateral.

Earlier this month, Mr. Musk claimed to have raised just over $7 billion from various investors, including Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and Saudi Prince Al-Walid bin Talal.

“While we never doubted Musk’s ability to complete the transaction from a financial perspective, we felt the biggest risk was that Elon himself might change his mind.” Angelo Zino, from CFRA.

For Dan Ives, the entrepreneur has overestimated the strength of his Tesla shares, whose price has fallen sharply since the announcement of the takeover of Twitter, and could seek to protect the manufacturer of electric vehicles.

“The fact that Musk is creating such uncertainty with a tweet (and not a stock document) is very disturbing for us and for Wall Street” and raises “many questions but no concrete answers as to whether the transaction will take place” , underlines the analyst.

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