- Elon Musk said in a private message that it “didn’t make sense” to buy Twitter as Russia invaded Ukraine.
- Musk said this month before formally attempting to back out of the $44 billion acquisition.
- Twitter’s attorney argued Tuesday that the texts show Musk is driven by concerns about his personal finances.
Elon Musk wanted to ‘slow down’ his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter months after Russia invaded Ukraine, saying in private texts that it wouldn’t make sense to buy Twitter ‘if we heading into World War III”.
Those private texts were revealed during a Tuesday hearing on the postponement of a trial in October over Musk’s deal to buy Twitter, as well as other disputes over the discovery. Musk told Twitter in July that he was formally backing out of his agreement to buy the company in a letter claiming that Twitter had improperly withheld data about “bots” and spam accounts.
The text messages were sent on May 8 to a banker at Morgan Stanley, which is funding part of Musk’s deal. In these texts, the billionaire also quoted an upcoming speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin gave a speech May 9 for the 77th anniversary of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany, where he said Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine in February was the “only right decision” and falsely claimed that the West was “preparing for the invasion of Russia”.
“Let’s slow down for a few days,” the attorney tweeted, reading Musk’s texts during the hearing. “Putin’s speech tomorrow is really important. It wouldn’t make sense to buy Twitter if we’re heading into World War III.”
A lawyer for Musk, Alex Spiro of Skadden Arps, said the characterization of the texts in court was “utter nonsense, as the full-text string shows.” The full-text string is expected to be filed in court next week.
Musk signed a deal to buy Twitter and take it private in April. When Musk said he was abandoning the deal in July, Twitter almost immediately sued him to enforce the contract and get Musk to acquire it for the agreed price of $44 billion. Musk is widely considered to be on the sidelines in the ongoing legal battle, which is set to stand trial for five days in early October.
Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, Musk’s lawyers cited a whistleblower complaint from former Twitter CISO Pieter Zatko, who told Congress last month in an official disclosure that Twitter was not addressing properly various security issues. They said that the problems presented by Zatko required more time.
Reading Musk’s texts, Twitter’s attorney reiterated the company’s argument that Musk is in breach of contract, and his only motivation for trying to pull out of the deal is personal financial concerns. Musk’s lawyers argued during the hearing that Twitter found no evidence to support his theory that he abandoned the deal for economic reasons. “Their theory of what really happened is not what really happened,” his lawyer said during the hearing.
Tesla CEO’s legal team claims the social media company intentionally misled him about the number of daily users and spam accounts on its site, amounting to fraud and breach of contract .
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