Elon Musk gloats over collapsed Twitter deal as both sides gear up for legal fight

Elon Musk twitter deal
Elon Musk twitter deal

Elon Musk has sounded a note of defiance in his first public statement about Twitter since calling off his planned $44bn takeover of the company.

The billionaire Tesla chief executive gloated that Twitter will be forced to disclose the number of fake accounts on its platform in a court, posting a meme picture of him laughing about the prospect.

Mr Musk has repeatedly claimed Twitter undercounts the number of “bot” accounts on the social network. He used the alleged failing as the main reason for reneging on the deal over the weekend.

Twitter plans to use US law to force Mr Musk to go through with his takeover at $54.20 per share.

Mr Musk made light of Twitter’s legal threats, posting an image on the social network on Monday of his own laughing face. The post read:

On Friday, Mr Musk’s lawyers wrote to Twitter to cancel the deal, claiming the company had “not complied with its contractual obligations” and ignored requests for information about the number of fake accounts on the social network.

Twitter has said fewer than 5pc of users are fake or spam accounts. Mr Musk believes the number could be as high as 20pc. Neither side has publicly shared the methodology for their estimates.

Twitter chairman Brett Taylor said the company plans to sue Mr Musk in a Delaware Court to force him to go through with his takeover offer. An out-of-court settlement is also a possibility.

On Monday, it was reported that Twitter had hired US law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz for the legal fight against Mr Musk. The Tesla chief executive has turned to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

Under the terms of the agreed takeover, Mr Musk faces a $1bn termination fee even if efforts to force his to buy Twitter prove unsuccessful.

Legal experts have said Mr Musk will have to prove to the court that the number of “bots” on Twitter would have a significant impact on the company’s financial earnings going forward in order to successfully get out of the deal.

Mr Musk has faced repeated questions over how serious he is about running the social network. His offer price of $54.20 per share included the numbers “420”, a reference to US cannabis culture, and his apparent interest in the bid has appeared to wane as weeks have progressed.

Shares in Twitter fell 7pc in early trading in New York to as low as $34, even further below Mr Musk's offer price of $54.20.

Tesla shares fell 5pc, having fallen 40pc since the start of the year amid a tech sell-off and concerns about the Twitter takeover.