Science

Twitter shareholders approve Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover bid

Shareholders of Twitter Inc. approved a $44 billion takeover proposed by billionaire Elon Musk, paving the way for a lawsuit next month to determine the fate of the deal.

A majority of Twitter’s shareholders voted in favor of accepting Musk’s offer to acquire the company at $54.20 per share, according to a preliminary vote count held on Tuesday. Musk made the offer in April and has been trying to get it canceled ever since. The Twitter board of directors, as well as two reputable consulting firms, called on investors to ratify the proposal. The company’s shares are trading at $41.77, well below Musk’s suggested price, and were largely unchanged during the vote.

The meeting of shareholders lasted 7 minutes, with open voting about 3 minutes. Shareholders were also able to vote weeks before the meeting, and Twitter sent out multiple messages urging them to vote early.

If the completion of the operation required the approval of shareholders, then its implementation is far from certain. In July, Musk said he wanted to end the deal, saying he had been misled by Twitter about the size of the company’s user base and the number of bots and spam accounts. Twitter denies these allegations and is suing Musk to force him to complete the acquisition. Musk then counterattacked the company.

For weeks, lawyers for Musk and San Francisco-headquartered Twitter have been arguing over witnesses, evidence, and even a trial date. A trial is currently scheduled for October 17 in the Delaware Court of Chancery. From Twitter’s perspective, a shareholder vote to approve the deal was all Musk needed to move forward. The latter disagrees and asked the company to provide more information.

Key witness?

Musk recently tried to reinforce his position by citing revelations from a former senior Twitter executive who issued a statement in late August. Pater “Mudge” Zatko, Twitter’s former head of security, says the company violates numerous regulations, doesn’t enforce security effectively, and provides misleading information about the number of bots on its service.

Twitter denies Zatko’s claims, calling him a disgruntled ex-employee fired for poor performance. Last week, Judge Katalyn St. Jay McCormick, who is due to oversee the trial in October, said Musk could use part of Zatko’s whistleblower complaint in her case against Twitter, but rejected his offer to delay the trial.

Earlier Tuesday, Zatko testified before a Senate committee, saying his former employer was reckless with users’ personal data and used outdated security tools. Several US senators have said that tech companies like Twitter need more formal regulatory oversight, but nothing concrete has been implemented.

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