A deal at a lower price is ‘not out of the question’

Elon Musk has fueled speculation that he may seek to renegotiate his takeover of Twitter, saying a viable deal at a lower price would not be “out of the question”.

Shares of Twitter continued to tumble on Wall Street and are 8% lower in late trading Monday in New York. The stock fell on concerns that Musk might forgo the $44 billion ($63 billion) acquisition entirely. That concern grew over the past week as Musk questioned publicly disclosed data from Twitter about the percentage of spam and fake accounts on its social media service.

Analysts believe Elon Musk may be trying to lower the price he pays for the social media giant.Credit:Getty Images

Musk pushed that front further at a tech conference in Miami on Monday, estimating that fake users make up at least 20% of all Twitter accounts. That was the low end of his estimate of the number of Twitter bots, and he rhetorically asked if the number could be as high as 90%, according to a live video of his remarks posted by a Twitter user.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, said last week that his bid to buy Twitter was “temporarily suspended” pending details on the number of spam and fake accounts on the platform. Over the weekend, he tweeted that Twitter’s legal team called to complain about violating their nondisclosure agreement. Twitter declined to comment.

Musk spoke at a conference hosted by a podcast titled All-in directed by Chamath Palihapitiya, Jason Calacanis, David Sacks and David Friedberg. The US$7,500-per-person event was sold out and organizers said journalists were not allowed to attend. Musk appeared at the Miami summit via video conference.

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Musk began buying Twitter shares in January and disclosed a 9.2% stake in the company on April 4. are trading well below Musk’s offer. One theory is that Musk is looking to pay a lower price for Twitter by raising the issue of fake accounts.

The gap between Musk’s offer price of US$54.20 per share and Twitter’s stock price continued to widen, wiping out any gains the stock has made since Elon Musk disclosed his stake in the social media platform.

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