Twitter shareholders vote to approve Elon Musk deal

Decision clears legal hurdle as two sides move closer to court battle next month

Twitter shareholders on Tuesday voted to approve Tesla founder Elon Musk's $44 billion merger deal, setting them up for a court showdown in October. AFP
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Twitter shareholders on Tuesday voted to approve Tesla founder Elon Musk's $44 billion takeover of the company, as the social media platform and the world's richest man inch closer to a hotly anticipated court battle in October.

The decision to approve Mr Musk's offer of $54.20 per share — far higher than Twitter's current share price of $42 — was widely expected. It was also largely a formality, though it clears a legal hurdle to close the sale.

The approval comes three days after the Tesla founder issued a third letter to the company to terminate the deal, citing a reported $7.75 million severance payment the tech company paid to Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, who has acted as a whistleblower on Twitter's security failures.

The letter said Twitter's payment to Mr Zatko, the company's former head of security, “cannot be cured” and therefore Mr Musk is “not required” to go through with the merger.

Speaking before a US Senate committee earlier on Tuesday, Mr Zatko said Twitter leadership failed to address security risks and that it is “over a decade” behind the best security standards in the industry.

Mr Zatko alleged the company's executives lacked the competency to address security concerns and put profits over user safety. His claims are uncorroborated and lack the same kind of documentary support that Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen provided to Congress last year.

In his whistleblower complaint, Mr Zatko said the company also misled shareholders on its security standards against spam bots.

Mr Musk has argued, without evidence, that many of Twitter's 238 million daily users are bot accounts. He had previously threatened to walk away from the $44bn deal unless the company provided proof that fewer than 5 per cent of its active users were fake accounts.

The legal battle between Mr Musk and Twitter is scheduled to go to trial on October 17 in Delaware.

Updated: September 13, 2022, 7:35 PM