by John BIERS
Twitter shares climbed Thursday after reporting mixed earnings, but continued to lag the price in the company’s takeover agreement with Elon Musk amid uncertainty over whether the acquisition will be completed.
Near 1850 GMT, shares in the microblogging company stood at $49.18, up 1.1 percent from Wednesday, but well below the $54.20 price in the agreement between Twitter and Musk.
Shares are still also below their level Monday when the deal was announced.
Scott Kessler, analyst at Third Bridge, said the gap between Twitter’s stock price and that in the agreement reflected lingering questions surrounding the takeover agreement, which is expected to close later this year.
“There are still a lot of uncertainties about the deal,” Kessler told AFP.
“What we’ve seen in the past month came together so quickly and so unexpectedly that people are bracing themselves for the possibility that the deal might not close.”
Musk has taken to Twitter regularly since unveiling the $44 billion agreement to acquire the platform and take it private, saying Wednesday, “Let’s make Twitter maximum fun!”
In its earnings Thursday, Twitter said the Musk transaction “is expected to close in 2022” following “customary closing conditions.”
– Tesla shares slump –
But some prominent voices have expressed doubts the deal will be completed for a variety of reason, including questions about the financing and concerns that Twitter would distract Musk from running Tesla. Musk is also an iconoclast in corporate America known for his unpredictability.
A Reuters Breakingviews column was headlined, “Elon Musk probably won’t buy Twitter,” while New York University marketing professor Scott Galloway likened the Twitter-Musk agreement to an option for the Tesla CEO to buy that “I don’t believe (Musk) will exercise.”
Musk’s financing plan includes a $13 billion debt facility from a financing consortium led by Morgan Stanley, and a separate $12.5 billion margin loan from the same bank, as well as $21 billion from Musk’s personal fortune.
Twitter had initially resisted Musk’s efforts, but abruptly shifted course after Musk unveiled the finance plan last week.
But Musk has not specified how he will raise the cash for his portion. While listed as the world’s richest person by Forbes, Musk’s wealth is believed to be largely from Tesla stock, meaning he would likely have to sell billions of dollars of the electric car maker to finance the package.
Moreover, the financing plan with the banking consortium is also based on billions of dollars worth of Musk’s Tesla shares that are used as collateral, according to a Wall Street Journal report Thursday.
The breakup fee for the deal is $1 billion.
Tesla shares have fallen about 13 percent since Friday before Twitter shifted its position and welcomed the deal.
The micro-blogging platform reported profits of $513.3 million in the first quarter of 2022, more than seven times the year-ago level following a one-time gain from a divestiture. Revenues rose 16 percent to $1.2 billion, a bit below the $1.22 billion expected by analysts.
Twitter’s count of active users rose to 229 million, a bit above analyst expectations.
In the wake of the deal, Twitter canceled its quarterly earnings conference call with analysts. — Agence France-Presse