scorecardresearchElon Musk buys 9.2 % stake in Twitter for nearly $3 billion to become top

Elon Musk buys 9.2 % stake in Twitter for nearly $3 billion to become top shareholder; Here's what this means

Updated: 05 Apr 2022, 09:26 AM IST

Twitter shares surged 25 percent soon after the Tesla boss bought a stake in it

Musk recently questioned Twitter’s commitment to free speech, Photo: Richard Drew/ AP

Musk recently questioned Twitter’s commitment to free speech, Photo: Richard Drew/ AP

Elon Musk bought a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter, worth nearly $3 billion, making him the micro-blogging site’s largest shareholder. This triggered more than 25 percent jump in the company’s shares, reported Reuters.

Musk’s move comes close on the heels of his tweet that he was giving a serious thought to building a new social media platform, while questioning Twitter’s commitment to free speech, wrote Reuters.

A prolific Twitter user, Musk has over 80 million followers since joining the site in 2009 and has used the platform to make several announcements, including teasing a go-private deal for Tesla that landed him in regulatory crosshairs, wrote Reuters.

Of late, Musk has been critical of the social media platform and its policies, and recently ran a Twitter poll asking users if they believed the platform adheres to the principle of free speech, to which over 70 percent voted ‘no’.

Twitter's recent quarterly results and lower-than-expected user additions have raised questions about its growth prospects, even as it pursues big projects such as audio chat rooms and newsletters to end long-running stagnation.

“It does send a message to Twitter ... having a meaningful stake in the company will keep them on their toes, because that passive stake could very quickly become an active stake,” said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital LLC.

Musk - who, according to Forbes, has a net worth of about $300 billion - has been selling his stake in Tesla since November, when he said he would offload 10 percent of his holding in the electric-car maker. He has already sold $16.4 billion worth of shares since then.

A regulatory filing on Monday showed that Musk owns 73.5 million Twitter shares, which are held by the Elon Musk Revocable Trust, of which he is the sole trustee. Vanguard is Twitter's second-biggest shareholder, with an 8.79 percent stake, according to Refinitiv data.

“Musk's actual investment is a very small percentage of his wealth and an all-out buyout should not be ruled out,” CFRA Research analyst Angelo Zino wrote in a client note.

Musk has previously made early-stage investments in companies, including online payment processor Stripe Inc and artificial intelligence firm Vicarious, but his latest investment would be the first of its kind. He is also the founder and chief executive officer of SpaceX, and leads brain-chip startup Neuralink and infrastructure firm ‘The Boring Company’.

Twitter was the target of activist investor Elliott Management Corp in 2020, when the hedge fund argued its then-boss and co-founder, Jack Dorsey, was paying too little attention to Twitter while also running Square. Dorsey, who owns a more than 2% stake in Twitter, stepped down as CEO and chairman in November last year, handing over the reins to company veteran Parag Agrawal.

Twitter shares, which had fallen 38% in the past 12 months through Friday close, were trading at $47.19. The company added as much as $8.38 billion to its market capitalization, which now stands at $39.3 billion.



First Published: 05 Apr 2022, 09:26 AM IST