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On October 26 last year Elon Musk walked into the Twitter offices carrying a kitchen sink. It was an appropriate end to a draining few months for everyone who had followed the twists and turns of his $44bn takeover of Twitter. No one initially expected that Musk would make a bid to take the company private. The billionaire founder of Tesla disclosed the stake in the social media platform in early April, becoming its biggest shareholder.
Ten days later he offered to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share. Most of the world was still in the post-pandemic boom where money was cheap. Banks, including Morgan Stanley and Barclays, offered to lend almost $13bn per transaction and Musk posted his Tesla shares as collateral.
But shortly after Musk made his bid and refused to do due diligence in order to get the deal over the line, he tried to walk back on the watertight merger agreement. It became a captivating 'will he, won't he' saga that solidified his reputation as a mercurial billionaire whose defining characteristic is unpredictability. The fight was set to end up in Delaware, where a judge would decide whether Musk had to buy the company. But just weeks before Twitter and Musk were set to come to a head they drew up a settlement.
The repercussions of that deal have been widely felt. Musk has removed more than two-thirds of Twitter's employees and the banks that helped finance the transaction are sitting on billions of debt they aren't able to offload to investors. Part of the reason is that markets have taken a turn for the worse, but investors are also unwilling to deal with Musk's eccentricities. Musk has promised to turn Twitter into a more efficient and open tool for sharing information, while trying to keep wary advertisers on the platform so he can service the enormous amount of debt weighing the company down. What is clear is that Musk has become perhaps the most powerful figure in the media industry and in control of a platform that is used daily by some of the world's most influential figures. Let that sink in.