Elon Musk says he could try to renegotiate Twitter’s $44 billion deal for less

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SAN FRANICSCO — Elon Musk could seek a lower price for Twitter, he said at a conference Monday, just days after tweeting that his $44 billion bid for the site had been “temporarily put on hold.”

During a closed-door session at the All-In Summit in Miami, a conference with tech founders and media personalities, Musk said a deal to Twitter was not “out of the question” at a lower price. The comments were first reported by Bloomberg.

Kevin Paffrath, a financial analyst and YouTuber visiting Meet Kevin who attended the conference, said Musk was asked if “it could be a great deal at a different price.”

“I mean, it’s not out of the question,” he said, according to Paffrath, who said he was taking notes simultaneously. “The more questions I ask, the more my worries grow.”

Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk’s comments Monday indicated that he continued to move away from his initial $44 billion deal to buy the website, which was announced on April 25. Tesla’s CEO has talked to Twitter management about the issue of spambots, fake accounts that often promote cryptocurrencies scams, though analysts and some advisers have suggested Musk’s focus on the issue is just a pretext to get out of the deal.

Shares of Tesla have fallen sharply since Musk’s interest in Twitter went public, and Musk’s net worth has taken a big dent as a result. Much of Musk’s funding for the deal relies on Musk’s ability to use Tesla stock as collateral, similar to using real estate to back a loan. Most recently, the downturn in tech stocks had prompted Musk to seek additional investors to lower his equity commitment in the deal, as Musk pledged $21 billion of his net worth — mostly tied up in Tesla stock — to buy the site.

Elon Musk says Twitter deal on hold, putting bid on shaky ground

Twitter shares fell sharply after Musk’s comments, closing at $37.39 on Monday — well below Musk’s bid of $54.20 a share. The deal was expected to close later this year, before Musk tweeted on Friday that it was on hold “pending details in support.” [Twitter’s] calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users.”

Musk has stated that he believes spam accounts make up a significantly larger proportion of Twitter users. On Monday, he responded with a poop emoji to a Twitter thread by the social media site’s CEO, Parag Agrawal, who wanted to explain the bot counting method.

Twitter’s bot problem likely won’t allow Musk to pull out of deal

Musk had outlined his concerns about Twitter bots when asked to potentially seek a lower price. He had likened the issue to buying a house with a termite problem. The house would be worth less if it were made up mostly of termites — compared to a house with only a minor termite problem, he said.

On the surface, Musk outlined his frustrations at his inability to extract what he considered to be clear answers from Twitter.

For Paffrath, who was in the audience, it was clear that Musk was “laying the groundwork or” [had] started renegotiating.”

Now with Musk’s comments at Monday’s tech conference, analysts have cast doubt on whether the deal would eventually go through.

“Our view is that the street assigns the probability of Musk running as over 50%, which speaks to the pressure on Twitter stock…$54.20 is out the window with this circus show,” wrote Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities, in a Note. †[We] view the $44 billion Twitter deal as less than 50% [likelihood] to wrap up as of today…If Musk and Twitter strike a revised deal, it will likely be at a lower price.”

Meanwhile, Twitter released a new company filing late Monday in which the company answered questions about whether there would be layoffs or whether content moderation practices would change. But the document provided few answers other than to say that business practices would continue as before for the time being. The phrase “business as usual” is repeated nine times in the application.

Elizabeth Dwoskin contributed to this report.

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