Elon Musk says Twitter deal still has 'unresolved matters' and clarifies Tesla job cuts

World's richest person tells Qatar Economic Forum recession in the US is inevitable

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, appears via video link at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha. Bloomberg
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Elon Musk's $44 billion deal to buy Twitter continues to face "unresolved matters", the billionaire businessman said on Tuesday.

Mr Musk, who is chief executive of Tesla, made the comments on Twitter at the Qatar Economic Forum, organised by Bloomberg, at which he appeared via video.

He also spoke on a range of subjects during the 20-minute session.

Here are some of his most significant discussion points:

Twitter takeover remains held up by bots saga

Mr Musk, who announced the $44bn offer to acquire Twitter in April, later threatened to withdraw from the deal if the social media network failed to provide accurate data on spam and fake accounts.

The company was in a "clear material breach" of its obligations by not providing him with the information, he said.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that Twitter would yield to Mr Musk's demands, but it appears the issue is yet to be resolved.

"We're still awaiting resolution on that matter, and that is a very significant matter," he said at the Qatar event, reiterating doubts over Twitter's claims that false or spam accounts represented fewer than 5 per cent of its monetisable daily active users.

"And then of course, there's the question of, will the debt portion of the round come together? And then will the shareholders vote in favour?"

Mr Musk confirmed during a meeting with Twitter staff last week that he wants to have at least one billion people on Twitter, from 229 million at present. However, there was little clarity on how the deal to buy the social media platform was progressing.

He did say he would focus on “driving the product” at Twitter and doesn’t necessarily plan to be chief executive at the company.

Tesla job cuts

Staffing issues at electric vehicle maker Tesla have also been making headlines.

As well as telling employees to return to the workplace or leave the company, Mr Musk said earlier this month that he wanted to cut about 10 per cent of jobs.

Tesla employed about 100,000 people at the end of 2021, according to its annual filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Tesla is reducing its salaried workforce roughly 10 per cent over the next three months or so,” Mr Musk said at the forum on Tuesday.

“We expect to grow our hourly workforce. We grew very fast on the salaried side, grew a little too fast in some areas.”

He added that the cuts will result in an overall reduction of 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent in total headcount at Tesla, as hourly staff numbers are still expected to grow.

On Tesla's supply chain problems, he said: “As anyone knows who has tried to order a Tesla, the demand for our cars is extremely high and the wait list is long. This is not intentional and we’re increasing production capacity as fast as humanly possible.”

Economy and US recession

In an email sent to Tesla staff a few weeks ago, seen by Reuters, Mr Musk said he had a "super bad feeling" about the economy.

Inflation in the US touched a fresh 40-year high last month, prompting the US Federal Reserve to raise its target interest rate by three quarters of a percentage point, the biggest increase since 1994.

The move has led to fears of an economic slowdown in the world's biggest economy.

Mr Musk told the forum a recession in the US is inevitable at some point.

"As to whether there is a recession in the near-term, that is more likely than not.”

Updated: June 21, 2022, 12:42 PM