Twitter launches fightback against Elon Musk over his £31.4bn bid to take firm private: Social media giant deploys so-called poison pill
- Twitter will flood market with new shares if Musk takes his stake above 15%
- This will slow down or completely blocking any hostile takeover attempt
- ‘Rights plan’ will make it difficult for Tesla tycoon to pull off hostile takeover
- ‘Does not prevent’ Musk putting together offer board is willing to accept
Twitter has launched a fightback against Elon Musk over his £31.4billion bid to take the firm private.
The social media giant yesterday deployed a so-called poison pill – a strategy devised by law firms in the 1980s to protect companies from corporate raiders.
The company will flood the market with new shares if Musk takes his stake above 15 per cent, diluting the value of his holding and slowing down or completely blocking any hostile takeover attempt.
Poison pill: Twitter will flood the market with new shares if Elon Musk takes his stake above 15 per cent, diluting the value of his holding
Twitter said yesterday a ‘rights plan’ will make it difficult for the Tesla tycoon to pull off a hostile takeover.
But it added that it ‘does not prevent’ Musk from taking over the business if he can put together an offer the board is willing to accept.
It set the stage for Musk to up his existing $54.20 per share offer or abandon his bid altogether. When Musk initially made the offer he claimed it was ‘final’.
Twitter said if 50-year-old Musk crosses the 15 per cent threshold existing shareholders will be offered new shares at a heavy discount, with the opportunity to double their stake.
In 2012 streaming giant Netflix used a poison pill to repel a potential takeover threat after activist investor Carl Icahn acquired an almost 10 per cent stake.
Twitter’s poison pill will last until April next year. It said the plan was aimed at ‘enabling all shareholders to realise the full value of their investment in Twitter’.
Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: ‘It’s a high risk strategy that only works in the short term, because if the bidder is intent on buying the company they will just carry on. ‘It’s a legitimate defence to ward off unwanted buyers.’
Meanwhile, the social media giant’s chief executive Parag Agrawal told a staff meeting late on Thursday night the company would not be ‘held hostage’ by Musk.
Agrawal, 37, who took over from founder Jack Dorsey in November, told Twitter’s 7,500 staff the board is still evaluating the $54.20 per share offer.
Twitter’s board acknowledged the offer on Thursday saying it would ‘carefully review’ the proposal, but in private it is said to view the approach as ‘unwelcome’.
Brent Thill, analyst at investment bank Jefferies, said ‘no board in America’ would accept Musk’s bid, raising the prospect of an improved offer.
Thill added: ‘No one believes this is the final price.’
Musk threatened to sell his 9.2 per cent stake if his initial offer was rejected, which could cause its share price to crash.