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Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, became Twitter’s largest shareholder on Monday, sparking speculation that he may seek a role in t...


Credit…Pool photo by Christian Marquardt

Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and the richest person in the world, bought a nearly 10% stake in Twitter, the social media platform where he has more than 80 million followers and shares everything, business ideas and memes to his experience at a famous Berlin nightclub last weekend.

The purchase, made public on Monday in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is worth about $2.89 billion based on Twitter’s closing stock price on Friday. News of Mr Musk’s takeover sent Twitter’s stock price soaring.

A Twitter spokesperson did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Mr. Musk also did not respond to a request for comment.

The purchase, equal to 9.2% of the company, appears to make Mr. Musk Twitter’s largest shareholder. Its stake is slightly higher than Vanguard’s 8.8% at the end of last year, and it eclipses the 2.3% stake of Jack Dorsey, the former chief executive of Twitter. The shares represent a fraction of the more than $270 billion reported by Mr Musk net value.

Mr. Musk has criticized the company in recent weeks for failing to uphold the principles of free speech, and he has openly considered creating his own social network that would be open source. His long and complicated personal relationship with the platform has also gotten him in trouble, with his tweets about Tesla’s finances dragging legal wrangling with the SEC

Some of Mr. Musk’s ideas, such as moving Twitter to an open-source network, won support from Twitter co-founder Mr. Dorsey, who resigned as chief executive at the end of the year. last.

“The choice of which algorithm to use (or not) should be open to everyone,” Mr. Dorsey said last month in response to a tweet from Mr. Musk advocating an open-source algorithm for the platform. Mr. Dorsey, who is friendly with Mr. Musk, is expected to leave the Twitter board in May.

It’s unclear what Mr Musk’s plans are beyond becoming a major shareholder and whether he will ask – or be invited – to join Twitter’s board. Mr. Musk has filed a securities document saying he expects the investment to be passive, meaning he has no intention of taking control of the company. But there was also speculation on Monday that he might change the status of his investment, continue to buy shares or even try to acquire the company outright, today’s DealBook newsletter reported.

“We expect this passive participation to be just the beginning of broader conversations with Twitter’s board/management that may ultimately lead to active participation and a potentially more aggressive ownership role by Twitter.” , said Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities on Monday. Morning.

If Mr. Musk is pushing for change on Twitter, he wouldn’t be the first restless investor the company has faced in recent years. Activist firm Elliott Management took a stance on Twitter and called for Mr Dorsey to step down in 2020. It then struck a deal with Twitter that included a $1 billion investment from private equity firm Silver Lake and recruited new board members, including Silver Lake. co-managing director, Egon Durban. Silver Lake has teamed up with Mr. Musk in its efforts to privatize Tesla

The list of Mr. Musk’s other business ventures is long: Beyond Tesla, he is chief executive of rocket company SpaceX and founder of The Boring Company, a tunneling services firm. Adding another role to the list could irritate Tesla shareholders. In the last two months of last year, Mr. Musk sold about $16 billion worth of Tesla stock, or about 10% of his stake in the electric vehicle company.

Tesla challenged the supply chain issues that have strained most traditional automakers, adding to Mr. Musk’s wealth and influence in the tech and auto industries. Tesla nearly doubled its sales last year, approaching one million vehicles sold. Saturday, Tesla said it sold 310,000 cars in the first three months of 2022, a 70% increase from the same period a year earlier – gains that contrast with the sharp declines reported last week by General Motors and Toyota Motor.

Tesla’s ever-expanding production network, including new factories in and around Austin, Texas Berlin, positions the company to rival automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the number of vehicles sold. Despite a slew of new battery-powered models from Ford Motor, Kia and others, Tesla continues to dominate the electric car market, the industry’s fastest-growing segment.

Yet executives who have juggled media projects and other private ventures have sometimes found themselves in the crosshairs of policymakers. Former President Donald J. Trump, for example, had a low opinion of Amazon because he disagreed with cover in the Washington Postwhich Jeff Bezos bought in 2013. Tesla is a big recipient of environmental credits, while SpaceX pursues government contracts.

Regardless of the potential pullback, Mr. Musk could profit from the investment. The document detailing Mr Musk’s stake said it was worth around $3 billion at Friday’s closing price. It’s dated March 14, and Twitter shares have risen around 50% since then.

Jack Ewing and Pierre Eavis contributed report.

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