Twitter scores early win in Elon Musk court battle

Social network lands expedited trial as Tesla co-founder tries to leave deal over 'spam' accounts

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Twitter on Tuesday scored an early win in its legal challenge against billionaire Elon Musk for trying to abandon its $44 billion takeover deal, with a Delaware judge scheduling an October date for the trial.

The Tesla and SpaceX founder requested that the proceedings begin in February of 2023, while the social network company argued for an expedited trial given a continuing public dispute.

Twitter is legally challenging Mr Musk for breaching an agreement he reportedly signed, and for him to follow through with the April merger that includes paying $54.20 per share.

Mr Musk says he is seeking to terminate the agreement over claims the company has not addressed inquiries on its “spam” or bot accounts, or provided him with relevant business information.

Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of the Court of Chancery in Delaware decided that the trial would begin in October. The Delaware court is where many US business disputes are settled.

“The reality is a delay threatens irreparable harm to the sellers,” she said of the public company. “The longer the delay, the greater the risk.”

Mr Musk has publicly tweeted challenges to Twitter, leading to several contentious months between the platform and its potential new owner.

Company lawyer William Savitt on Tuesday said Mr Musk was “engaging in sabotage".

An official date has not been set for the trial.

Last week, Twitter's stock declined from over $50 a share when the deal was announced in April to as low as $32.55.

But it was trading around $39.85 on Tuesday morning, up about 3.8 per cent and near the highest level since Mr Musk said he was walking away.

Tesla, meanwhile, was trading at $733.71, up 1.67 per cent on the day, underperforming the rest of the S&P 500, which was up 2.44 per cent.

Updated: July 20, 2022, 6:49 AM