Elon Musk drops plans to join Twitter board, deletes weekend tweets

April 11 (Reuters) – Elon Musk rejected Twitter Inc’s (TWTR.N) offer to join its board, an abrupt turn even as he suggested ideas in a barrage of tweets ranging from removing advertisements to dropping the letter “w” in the social media company’s name.

Neither Twitter chief Parag Agrawal nor Musk disclosed the reason for the rejection, although the Tesla (TSLA.O) boss later deleted those tweets, which also included plans such as an authentication checkmark for Twitter subscribers who pay $3 a month.

The board held many discussions with Musk, Agrawal said in a note posted to the site on Sunday, while warning of “distractions ahead.”

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The latest twist in the Twitter saga stoked chatter on everything ranging from the possibility of a buyout to Musk trying to stay clear from the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s scrutiny.

Musk was expected to join the board on April 9 following his disclosure of a 9.1% ownership of Twitter shares, but the role would have capped his stake at 14.9%.

Sources told Reuters that Musk had asked Twitter for a board seat even before the company’s invitation.

With the rejection, Musk, who is now the company’s biggest shareholder, is free to raise his stake above that limit.

“I believe this is for the best,” Agrawal said in the note, referring to Musk’s rejection. “There will be distractions ahead, but our goals and priorities remain unchanged.” (https://bit.ly/3usFqhe)

Musk, whose net worth is pegged at $274 billion by Forbes, responded with a face-with-hand-over-mouth emoticon on Twitter that was later deleted.

“You have to assume that over the weekend there’s been an awful lot of toing and froing, and it does feel like he’s been pushing the boundaries to see how far he could go,” AJ Bell analyst Danni Hewson said.

“He was never going to want to be constrained in the way that Twitter clearly would want to constrain him as a member of the board.”

Musk, who calls himself a free-speech absolutist and has been critical of Twitter, disclosed the stake on April 4 and said he planned to bring about significant improvements at the social media platform. read more

Musk’s latest decision opens the possibility for him to take a larger position and potentially make an all-out bid, CFRA Research analyst Angelo Zino wrote in a client note.

“We had thought the equity cap and board seat was originally intended to handcuff Musk in many respects and think he is unlikely the type of individual who will now just sell his stake and walk away,” Zino added.

Twitter shares were marginally higher at $46.40 in choppy trading on Monday. They rose over 27% on April 4 when Musk disclosed his stake but have since lost about 7.5% to Friday close.

News of Musk taking a board seat had some Twitter employees panicking over the future of the social media company’s ability to moderate content, company sources told Reuters. read more

Before taking the stake, Musk ran a Twitter poll asking users if they believed Twitter sticks to the principle of free speech.

“I think what he realized is that by being on the board his voice will diminish and that’s absolutely the last thing he wants,” Wells Fargo analyst Brian Fitzgerald said.

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Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan, Nivedita Balu and Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Miyoung Kim, Edmund Klamann and Anil D’Silva

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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