AP

Twitter sets September shareholder vote on Elon Musk buyout

Jul 26, 2022, 12:20 PM | Updated: Jul 28, 2022, 12:41 pm

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Twitter has set Sept. 13 as the date for its shareholders to vote on the company’s pending buyout by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The company said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that it is recommending shareholders vote for the $44 billion deal to be completed.

The date is ahead of the yet-to-be specified start date of the October trial in the dispute between the billionaire, who is seeking to abandon the deal, and the San Francisco company. Twitter has sued Musk in Delaware after he said wanted to walk away from the deal.

“We are committed to closing the merger on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk. Your vote at the special meeting is critical to our ability to complete the merger,” Twitter said in a letter to its shareholders.

Earlier Tuesday, attorneys for Musk accused Twitter of slow-walking document production in advance of the trial to decide whether the Tesla CEO should be forced to complete the deal.

Musk’s lawyers also said in a court filing that Twitter Inc. attorneys have refused to consent to a proposed Oct. 17 trial date and are insisting on an Oct. 10 trial start, using the uncertainty over a trial date to delay other scheduling discussions.

Attorneys for Musk claimed that Twitter’s proposed case schedule is “an obvious attempt to squeeze defendants” after a Delaware Chancery Court judge agreed last week to hold an expedited trial in a lawsuit filed by Twitter.

“Given the compressed timeframe, guidance from the court is necessary to break the impasse to allow things to move forward promptly,” attorney Edward Micheletti wrote in asking Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick to grant Musk’s proposed case schedule.

A spokesman for Twitter said the company had no comment on Tuesday’s court filing.

Musk agreed in April to buy Twitter and take it private, offering $54.20 a share and vowing to loosen the company’s policing of content and to root out fake accounts. As part of the deal, Musk and Twitter had agreed to pay each other a $1 billion breakup fee if either was responsible for the deal collapsing.

Twitter shares closed Tuesday at $39.34, well off their 52-week high of $71.92.

Musk, the world’s richest man, indicated earlier this month that he wants to back away from the deal, prompting Twitter to file a lawsuit to hold him to what it describes as a “seller-friendly” agreement.

With an October trial looming, Micheletti told the judge Tuesday that Twitter has refused to begin producing certain categories of documents that are “plainly relevant” and “easily collected and produced.” He said Twitter lawyers instead have claimed that several categories of documents are not relevant, without identifying them.

The documents sought by Musk’s attorneys include Twitter board minutes and related materials, advertising sales and metrics, and manuals and policies regarding “Monetizable Daily Active Usage or Users,” or mDAU. That is a metric that Twitter uses to measure the number of people or organizations using its platform.

Musk has claimed that Twitter has failed to provide him enough information about the number of fake accounts on its service, but the company has estimated for the past several years that fewer than 5% of mDAU are spam or fake accounts.

Musk’s attorneys also contend that Twitter has refused to provide them with raw data that it maintains in the ordinary course of business, and which require significant “machine time” and software development to be processed and analyzed by expert witnesses by a proposed Monday deadline.

Twitter said last month that it was making a “fire hose” of raw data on hundreds of millions of daily tweets available to Musk.

Attorneys for Musk are asking McCormick to approve the Oct. 17 trial date, and to order Twitter to immediately produce “core documents” and to produce all raw data by Monday.

“Given the timeline until trial, every day counts,” Micheletti wrote.

Tuesday’s court filing suggests that Musk plans to file his answer to Twitter’s complaint later this week.

___

Ortutay reported from Oakland, California.

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Twitter sets September shareholder vote on Elon Musk buyout