New Delhi | Jagran Business Desk: Micro-blogging website Twitter has begun negotiation deals with Elon Musk after the Tesla Chief Executive Officer (CEO) wooed several shareholders of the company with his USD 43 billion acquisition offer, reported Reuters quoting sources.

The sources said Twitter's decision to start talks with Musk was taken on Sunday. Although it does not mean that Twitter will accept his USD 54.20 per share bid, the sources said the social media giant is "exploring whether a sale of the company to Musk is possible on attractive terms".

Musk, over the past few days, has held several meetings with Twitter shareholders to seek support for his bid and help it "become a genuine platform for free speech". According to Reuters, several shareholders have also reached out to Twitter, urging the company seal a deal with Musk.

However, Reuters sources said Musk's insistence that his bid for Twitter is his "best and final" is a "hurdle" in the negotiations. They said the micro-blogging website also wants to know more about any active investigations by regulators into Musk, including by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), that would present a risk to the deal being completed.

Twitter is also looking into whether regulators in any of the major markets it operates would object to Musk owning the company, the source added. Were Twitter to establish that a sale to Musk would be risky, it could ask for a sizeable break-up fee, according to the Reuters sources.

The social media company adopted a poison pill after Musk made his offer to prevent him from raising his more than 9 per cent stake in the company above 15 per cent without negotiating a deal with its board. In response, Musk has threatened to launch a tender offer that he could use to register Twitter shareholder support for his bid.

A concern that Twitter's board weighed was that unless it sought to negotiate a deal with Musk, many shareholders could back him in a tender offer, the sources said.

While the poison pill would prevent Twitter shareholders from tendering their shares, the company is worried that its negotiating hand would weaken considerably if it was shown to be going against the will of many of its investors, the sources added.

Representatives for Twitter and Musk did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Sunday that Musk and Twitter would meet to discuss the acquisition offer.

The price expectations among Twitter shareholders for the deal diverge largely based on their investment strategy, the sources said.

Active long-term shareholders, who together with index funds hold the biggest chunk of Twitter shares, have higher price expectations, some in the $60s-per-share, the sources said. They are also more inclined to give Parag Agrawal, who became Twitter's chief executive in November, more time to boost the value of the company's stock, the sources added.

"I don't believe that the proposed offer by Elon Musk ($54.20 per share) comes close to the intrinsic value of Twitter given its growth prospects," Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a Twitter shareholder, tweeted on April 14.

Short term-minded investors such as hedge funds want Twitter to accept Musk's offer or ask for only a small increase, the sources said. Some of these are fretting that a recent plunge in the value of technology stocks amid concerns over inflation and an economic slowdown makes it unlikely Twitter will be able to deliver more value for itself anytime soon, the sources added.

"I would say, take the $54.20 a share and be done with it," said Sahm Adrangi, portfolio manager at Kerrisdale Capital Management, a hedge fund that owns 1.13 million shares in Twitter, or 0.15 per cent of the company, and has been an investor since early 2020.

One silver lining for Twitter's board is that Musk's offer did not appear to convert much of his army of 83 million Twitter followers into new shareholders in the San Francisco-based company who could back his bid, the sources said.

Twitter's retail investor base has increased from about 20 per cent before Musk unveiled his stake on April 4 to some 22 per cent, according to the sources.

(With Reuters inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma