Elon Musk says he has secured US$46.5 billion in funding for Twitter bid

Elon Musk and his bid for Twitter
It comes as the platform adopts a 'poison pill' to thwart the billionaire. Photo credit: Getty Images

Elon Musk on Thursday, local time, said he has lined up US$46.5 billion (NZ$69 billion) in debt and equity financing to buy Twitter and is considering taking his offer directly to shareholders, a filing with US regulators showed.

Musk himself has committed to put up US$33.5 billion, which will include US$21 billion of equity and US$12.5 billion of margin loans against some of his Tesla shares to finance the transaction. He is chief executive officer of electric vehicle maker Tesla.

Musk, the world's richest person according to a tally by Forbes, on April 14 presented a "best and final" cash offer of US$43 billion to Twitter's board of directors, saying the social media company needs to be taken private to grow and become a platform for free speech. read more

But Twitter failed to respond to his offer and adopted a 'poison pill' to thwart him.

Musk, Twitter's second-largest shareholder with a 9.1 percent stake, has said that he could make big changes at the micro-blogging company, where he has a following of more than 80 million users.

Shares of Twitter were down less than 1 percent on news of the funding, indicating that the market is still sceptical about the deal.

Shares of Tesla climbed nearly 7 percent and the value of Musk's 172.6 million Tesla shares rose by over US$10 billion on Thursday, local time, following a strong quarterly report. On Wednesday, he qualified for compensation in the form of stock options now worth about US$25 billion after Tesla hit profit and revenue performance targets. read more

It is unclear whether Musk would sell his stocks in Tesla to cover the US$21 billion equity financing.

Musk "may sell, dispose of or transfer" unpledged Tesla stocks at any time, according to a margin loan commitment letter.

Banks, including Morgan Stanley, have agreed to provide another US$13 billion in debt secured against Twitter itself, according to the filing.

A spokesperson for Twitter acknowledged receipt of Musk's proposal.

"As previously announced and communicated to Mr. Musk directly, the board is committed to conducting a careful, comprehensive and deliberate review to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the company and all Twitter stockholders," the Twitter representative said in a statement.

Ryan Jacob, chief investment officer at Jacob Asset Management, which holds Twitter shares, said Musk's latest filing would push Twitter's board to respond.

"They had to consider the seriousness of the offer, and this filing may do that," he said. "It's going to be hard for them to ignore it."

Josh White, assistant professor of finance at Vanderbilt University and a former financial economist for the Securities and Exchange Commission, said the funding would likely "put pressure on Twitter's board to either find a White Knight, which is unlikely, or negotiate with Musk to obtain a higher value and remove the poison pill."

The offer from Musk has drawn private equity interest in participating in a deal for Twitter, Reuters reported this week, citing people familiar with the matter.

Apollo Global Management is considering ways it can provide financing to any deal and is open to working with Musk or any other bidder, while Thoma Bravo has informed Twitter that it is exploring the possibility of putting together a bid.

Musk has made a number of announcements on the platform, including some that have landed him in hot water with US regulators.

In 2018, Musk tweeted that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private for US$420 per share - a move that led to millions of dollars in fines and him being forced to step down as chairman of the car company to resolve claims from the US securities regulator that he defrauded investors.