Twitter calls Elon Musk’s case against $ 44bn deal ‘implausible’

Twitter has accused Elon Musk of creating a “new set of excuses” to avoid honoring his $ 44bn agreement to buy the social media company, calling his recently filed objections “implausible and contrary to fact”.

After Twitter sued Musk last month to force the deal through, Musk filed a countersuit last week trying to block the social media company’s effort, which is still under seal. A judge has ordered it to be released on Friday.

Twitter made public its rebuttals to the Tesla chief executive’s legal case on Thursday in a court filing shared by Bret Taylor, chair of the social media group’s board.

In his countersuit, Musk again claimed Twitter has breached the agreement by greatly underestimating the proportion of spam and bots on its platform. The billionaire’s own analysis estimated the number of bot or spam accounts to be at least 10 per cent of all users. Twitter has previously estimated bots make up less than 5 per cent of accounts.

Musk also claimed that Twitter has overstated how many of its users are monetisable, alleging the number of users who actually saw advertising on the service was “about 65mn lower” than the company represented in regulatory filings. Musk has claimed only about 16mn users were seeing the “majority” of advertising.

Twitter responded by calling Musk’s estimates “factually inaccurate, legally insufficient, and commercially irrelevant”.

It said the methodology behind Musk’s estimations was “untenable on its face” and was “not measuring the same thing as Twitter or even using the same data as Twitter”.

The company questioned the veracity of Musk’s data, claiming a tool purportedly used to analyze the data had labeled the billionaire’s own account as a “likely bot”.

Twitter concluded: “Musk’s counterclaims, based as they are on distortion, misrepresentation, and outright deception, change nothing.”

In addition to the filings, both parties are casting a wide net in seeking additional information regarding the formulation of the deal.

Musk has subpoenaed Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase for details on how they advised Twitter, requesting any documents detailing financial performance, discussions with the company about the deal and any analysis of its valuation.

Twitter, meanwhile, has served information requests to the banks handling Musk’s financing of the deal, as well as co-investors and others in the billionaire’s orbit.

As the dispute with Twitter escalates, and heads for a fast-tracked October 17 court date, Musk is also contending with questions from Tesla fans and shareholders regarding his role as chief executive of the electric carmaker.

On Thursday, at Tesla’s annual meeting, Musk addressed several questions related to the Twitter dispute and said he had “a good sense of where to point the engineering team at Twitter to make it radically better”.

Asked what would happen to Tesla were he to leave or split his time, Musk said: “I think Tesla would continue to do very well even if I was kidnapped by aliens or went back to my home planet.”

Additional reporting by Richard Waters in San Francisco

Video: Elon Musk talks to the FT about Twitter, Tesla and Trump

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