Elon Musk Holds Up Twitter Deal, Drags on Social Media ETFs

Twitter Inc. (NasdaqGS: TWTR) retreated Friday, dragging down on social media-related exchange traded funds after Elon Musk warned that his buyout deal was put on hold.

On Friday, the Simplify Volt Pop Culture Disruption ETF (VPOP) was up 0.4%, the Invesco Dynamic Media ETF (PBS) rose 1.6% and the Global X Social Media ETF (SOCL) gained 3.6%.

Meanwhile, Twitter shares plunged 9.7% to about $40.6 per share, compared to the original $54.2 share price of $44 billion Musk offered. TWTR makes up 12.3% of VPOP, 8.4% of PBS, and 7.8% of SOCL.

Elon Musk stated that the Twitter deal was on hold, fueling concerns over the takeover, but he later reassured that he remains committed to the buyout, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Musk stated that he put the deal on hold to gain a clearer picture of how Twitter’s platform is operating.

“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk said early Friday morning from his Twitter account.

About two hours later, he tweeted: “Still committed to acquisition.”

Some speculated that Musk’s latest tweets of a potential hold could be part of a negotiating tactic or repricing the deal.

“The $44 billion price tag is huge, and it may be a strategy to row back on the amount he is prepared to pay to acquire the platform,” Susannah Streeter, an investment analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, told the WSJ, adding that there will be skepticism whether the fake accounts are the real reason for the delaying tactic

If the deal falls through, Musk will still be on the hook for $1 billion in breakup fees to Twitter, depending on the reason for the fallout. The size of the breakup fees, or just over 2% of the deal value, is around the industry average for similar acquisition deals. The so-called termination fees are a type of penalty meant to deter parties from breaking an agreement and help cover the expense and inconvenience of a failed deal.

Since Musk waived demands for detailed due diligence on Twitter’s business to expedite the acquisition, it could be more difficult for him to back out over a small point like spam user accounts.

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