- DAILY MAIL - JONATHAN ROSE FOR MAILONLINE and KEITH GRIFFITH FOR DAILYMAIL.COM - APR 14, 2022 -
'What are the Kingdom's views on journalistic freedom of speech?' Elon Musk socks it to Saudi prince Twitter shareholder for trying to block his hostile takeover bid
Twitter's board of directors is reportedly considering a 'poison pill' plan to block Elon Musk's takeover
Musk on Wednesday night sent a letter to Twitter offering to take the company private for $41 billion
He called it his 'best and final offer' and insisted 'I am not playing the back-and-forth game'
Twitter's board of directors is meeting Thursday afternoon and says it will 'carefully review the proposal'
Offer represents a 38% premium to the closing price of Twitter's stock on April 1, but is below last year's highs
Musk currently owns more than 9.2% of Twitter's stock and recently turned down a board seat
Shares of Twitter jumped 5.6 percent at the opening bell Thursday, to $48.40 - below Musk's offer price
It indicated that the market remains skeptical that Musk's takeover bid will be successful
Musk has amassed over 80 million Twitter followers since joining the site in 2009
Elon Musk has fired back at a Saudi Arabian shareholder of Twitter who tried to block his $41 billion hostile takeover plan, questioning whether royalty in the notoriously repressive state should exercise control over the social media platform.
In a tweet, Musk responded harshly to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who claimed to be 'one of the largest' Twitter shareholders and said he would 'reject' Musk's proposal to take the company private, calling the offer insufficient.
'How much of Twitter does the Kingdom own, directly & indirectly? What are the Kingdom’s views on journalistic freedom of speech?' Musk asked bin Talal.
Bin Talal's true ownership stake in Twitter is unclear. Though the prince shared a screenshot boasting of his 5.2 percent stake in 2015, his investment firm later reduced its stake below 5 percent, and has not had to report any further transactions, regulatory filings show.
Bin Talal is a cousin to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, whom the CIA concluded ordered the grisly assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
The Saudi government has long ranked near the worst in the world for press freedom.
Meanwhile the Twitter board, meeting on Thursday afternoon, is considering combatting Musk's takeover bid with a so-called 'poison pill' provision that would prevent the Tesla CEO from increasing his stake in Twitter, a source told the Wall Street Journal.
Also known as shareholder rights plans, poison pills typically trigger an automatic stock dilution through a flood of new shares if a corporate raider's ownership stake grows too large. In Twitter's case, the idea would be to prevent Musk from increasing his 9.2 percent stake in order to pressure the board to accept his deal.
In separate tweets, Musk argued that it 'would be utterly indefensible' not to allow shareholders to vote directly on his plan. 'They own the company, not the board of directors,' he wrote.
Musk also posted a Twitter poll asking whether the board should bring his offer directly to shareholders. In early voting, his followers overwhelmingly supported a shareholder vote on his bid.
Twitter shares closed down 1.68 percent on Thursday after a volatile session, ending the shortened trading week at $45.08 -- well below Musk's offer price of $54.20, in a sign that markets do not view his bid as likely to succeed.