New twist in $44 billion Elon Musk and Twitter fight as judge orders documents to be handed over

Elon Musk
The billionaire's request for information about 21 other employees was turned down. Photo credit: Getty Images

The epic US$44 billion battle between Twitter and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken another twist with a judge ordering the social media platform to hand over files related to a former employee.

Judge Kathaleen McCormick for the Delaware Chancery Court told Twitter it had to hand over details regarding Kayvon Beykpour's employment.

Musk and his lawyers believe the former head of consumer product at Twitter, who was fired in May, is a key to the platform's estimation that just 5 percent of its user base are bots or spam accounts.

Beykpour was described in the filings as one of the executives "most intimately involved" with Twitter's calculation.

Musk doesn't believe that number and has cited it as one of the major reasons he's trying to walk away from the deal.

Beykpour was in charge of the team responsible for increasing Twitter's user base until he was fired by CEO Parag Agrawal earlier this year, shortly after Agrawal took over from founder Jack Dorsey as head of the company.

Musk had accused Twitter of hiding the names of employees who calculated the spam and robot account percentage and so getting access to Beykpour's record could be considered a win.

However it was a rare victory for the billionaire, with the judge denying his request for documents on 21 other people involved in the process.

The trial is set to go ahead in October with Musk potentially being told he has to complete his US$44 billion takeover if Twitter is successful.

Last week the controversial billionaire sold off another US$6.9 billion (NZ$10.8 billion) of Tesla shares, which might be needed after the court case.

When asked why, Musk tweeted it was "in the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close and some equity partners don't come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock".

He also said he would buy the shares back later if the cash wasn't necessary.