San Francisco: Elon Musk asked a US judge Thursday to halt an upcoming trial over his troubled bid to take over Twitter, after the embattled social media company balked at the Tesla’s chief’s demand to freeze the litigation.
Musk’s request comes two days after he revived his $44-billion takeover plan — the latest of a whiplash-inducing series of reversals in the high-stakes saga.
Having pulled out of the transaction in July, prompting Twitter to sue him for breach of contract, the unpredictable billionaire on Tuesday offered to reinstate the $54.20-per-share offer — on condition the Delaware court halt the lawsuit against him.
A trial is scheduled to start on October 17.
“There is no need for an expedited trial to order Defendants to do what they are already doing and this action is now moot,” said a filing prepared by Musk’s attorneys that alluded to his latest offer.
“Yet, Twitter will not take yes for an answer. Astonishingly they have insisted on proceeding with this litigation, recklessly putting the deal at risk and gambling with their stockholders interests.”
The filing said Twitter had opposed a suspension on the “theoretical possibility” of lack of financing for the transaction, adding that Musk has access to financing to close the deal “on or around October 28.”
In a statement, Twitter said its stance was based on Musk’s repeated efforts to derail the legislation, saying his latest appeal to the court “is an invitation to further mischief and delay.”
The company said Tuesday it expects to close the buyout deal at the $54.20 price agreed in April.
Analysts say the litigation provides leverage to Twitter against the risk of another shift by Musk.
Twitter “thought they had a deal before,” said Adam Badawi, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “So to actually accept something from (Musk), it’s going to have to be as ironclad as it possibly can.
“But if details (can be) worked out, litigation will be off.”
“I imagine Twitter will want to put the $44 billion in escrow, or a very large amount of money, to show his good faith and commitment to actually getting this done,” Badawi said.
On Wednesday, Delaware Judge Kathaleen McCormick said she still planned to go ahead with the trial, which was put on a fast track in July.
As of now, Musk is scheduled to be deposed in the case on Monday, CNBC reported.
A serial entrepreneur made rich through his success with Tesla electric cars, Musk began to step back from the Twitter deal soon after it was agreed.
Musk said in July he was canceling the purchase because he was misled by Twitter concerning the number of fake “bot” accounts, allegations rejected by the company.
Twitter meanwhile has sought to prove Musk was contriving excuses to walk away — simply because he changed his mind.