Elon Musk expressed doubt about whether he’ll succeed with his $43 billion offer to buy Twitter Inc. in his first public comments about the blockbuster deal.
“I am not sure that I will actually be able to acquire it,” the billionaire entrepreneur said Thursday at a TED event in Vancouver. Musk said he has a Plan B if Twitter rejects his offer, without offering more details.
The comments came hours after the world’s richest person and head of Tesla Inc. roiled the financial world with the all-cash bid. With heightened interest in Musk’s activities, organizers of the conference made a last-minute change to make his prearranged appearance freely available online.
The offer is intended to create “an inclusive arena for free speech,” not as a way to make money, Musk said. He also said he has sufficient assets to complete the deal.
Musk, 50, revealed the proposed takeover in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier Thursday, after turning down the chance to take a board seat at the company. The bid is a high-stakes clash between Musk and the social media platform, which is used by more than 200 million people. Musk has been highly vocal about changes he’d like to see at the company.
Among Musk’s priorities for the platform: an edit button that would limit the amount of time that changes to a tweet could be made. Musk would also prioritize eliminating spam bots from the platform. He also thinks that the algorithm should be made public so there’s transparency on when tweets are changed, promoted or unpromoted.
Twitter’s shares on Thursday traded well below Musk’s $54.20 offer price, suggesting skepticism over the prospects of a deal. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a major Twitter shareholder, said Musk’s offer doesn’t come “close to the intrinsic value” of the company “given its growth prospects.”
Musk said his intent “is to retain as many shareholders as is allowed by the law in a private company.”