Elon Musk, has completed his acquisition of Twitter, with the social media group confirming the deal in a brief filing on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday morning, disclosing the deal had closed the day before.
Shares in the company have been suspended and will delist on 8 November, capping a chaotic saga that began when the Tesla CEO first announced his plans to take the tech business private in April.
Musk marked the transaction with a post to his 110 million followers declaring the “bird is freed”, in a reference to the company’s corporate logo, before adding: “let the good times roll”.
There has been speculation Musk will take on the role of chief executive at Twitter on an interim basis. Shortly after taking the helm, he reportedly ousted several senior figures, including the chief executive, Parag Agrawal; the chief financial officer, Ned Segal; and the head of legal policy, trust and safety, Vijaya Gadde.
News of the deal, after months of legal back-and-forth, brought immediate warnings that it must not lead to a surge in hate speech and disinformation on the platform, which has more than 230 million users.
Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist”, has said he intends to bring banned users, including Donald Trump, back to the platform.
Musk has also promised other sweeping changes at Twitter, including new leadership, job cuts and the pursuit of new ways to make money. Twitter, which is based in San Francisco and employs more than 7,500 people, has had difficulties consistently growing its advertising-based business and attracting new users.
The firings of the top company executives were a sign that Musk intended to move swiftly.
Musk will be remaking Twitter without having to disclose how it is performing every few months. By taking the company private, he does not need to regularly answer to shareholders and can make changes to the service away from the public’s prying eyes.
Advertisers may also be wary of doing business with Musk after he denounced the use of advertising on Twitter and said the company should find a different source of revenue.
Some advertisers have also been sceptical about their brands appearing alongside risky content that Musk has said should be allowed on Twitter, while others have preferred to spend money with social networks like Facebook and TikTok.
Musk sought to quell advertiser concerns with an open letter suggesting some content moderation would continue.
General Motors announced it will pause advertising on the platform as it assesses the company’s new direction.
“We are engaging with Twitter to understand the direction of the platform under their new ownership. As is normal course of business with a significant change in a media platform, we have temporarily paused our paid advertising. Our customer care interactions on Twitter will continue,” the company said in an emailed statement.
Musk has committed to financing most of the transaction himself, although he has received commitments worth more than $7bn from investors including Larry Ellison, founder of the Oracle software group, and cryptocurrency platform Binance. The deal will also be backed by a $13bn debt package led by a consortium of Wall Street banks.
Immediate termination of the three Twitter executives’ employment could cost the company more than $120m. Under “golden parachute” clauses Agrawal, Segal and Gadde would all qualify for lucrative payouts to cover previous share awards, plus a year’s salary and some insurance benefits. Agrawal would be entitled to total payments of $57.4m, and Segal and Gadde $44.5m and $20m respectively.
They also hold shares worth $8.3m, $22m and $34.8m respectively. Those shares are likely to be bought by Musk during the takeover. The closure of the deal will also trigger payments for Twitter’s US investment bankers that were conditional on completion of the takeover. JP Morgan Chase will receive $48m and Goldman Sachs $65m.
Completion of the deal brings to a close a takeover that became mired in corporate and legal drama soon after it was announced in April.
Within weeks the deal, which Musk had signed on 25 April, began to founder as its prospective owner raised concerns about the number of vexatious spam accounts on the platform.
This led the Tesla CEO to announce in July that he was walking away from the transaction, with Twitter responding by suing Musk.