Elon Musk threw another curveball in his takeover of Twitter on Monday.
At a tech conference in Miami, Musk, the world’s richest man, said making a deal over Twitter at a lower price was “not out of the question,” according to a person who attended the event.
Musk’s comment came in response to a question about whether he would renegotiate his planned $44 billion acquisition of Twitter over declared figures for how many bots, or spam accounts, exist on the social networking service, the aide said. Musk said that Twitter’s figure, less than 5 percent of all accounts, was hard to believe.
Twitter shares fell 8 percent on Monday to close at $37.39. That was well below the $54.20 a share Musk agreed to pay last month to buy the social media company.
Musk, who also heads rocket company SpaceX and electric carmaker Tesla, has sparked confusion over the status of the deal. Last Friday, he tweeted that Twitter’s purchase of him was “temporarily on hold” until he was able to get more details about the volume of spam and fake accounts on the platform. She later went on to say that she was still “committed” to the deal.
Parag Agrawal, CEO of Twitter, also posted a lengthy tweet thread at Monday detailing how the company calculates its number of bots. He said the company had shared an “overview of the estimation process with Elon a week ago.” Mr. Musk responded to the thread with a poop emoji.
Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Twitter declined to comment.
Analysts have speculated that Musk has been trying to back out of the deal or renegotiate a lower price. Stocks of tech companies have taken a beating since Musk first announced his acquisition of Twitter earlier this month. Tesla shares, which are Musk’s main source of wealth, have fallen nearly 30 percent.
Renegotiating a deal would not be easy. In addition to a $1 billion severance fee, Musk’s deal with Twitter includes a “specific performance clause,” which gives the company the right to sue him and force him to complete the deal, so long as the financing of the deal. debt you have accumulated for the deal is still intact.
But Musk has also created very public headaches for Twitter. During the weekend he tweeted that Twitter’s legal department had “called to complain” that he violated a confidentiality agreement discussing his bot’s sample size of 100. Musk’s agreement with Twitter also has a non-disparagement clause that prohibits him from tweeting negatively about the transaction.
The two sides have continued so far as if there was a deal. Teams from both sides held a previously scheduled meeting on Friday. (Twitter confirmed that the meeting was “part of the transaction planning process.”) On Friday, Bret Taylor, president of Twitter, tweeted: “We remain committed to our agreement.”
mike isaac contributed report.