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Elon Musk secures $7bn in outside funding for Twitter takeover

This article is more than 1 month old

Investors include Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal

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Elon Musk will continue to hold talks with existing shareholders of Twitter to contribute shares to the proposed acquisition. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP
Elon Musk will continue to hold talks with existing shareholders of Twitter to contribute shares to the proposed acquisition. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

Elon Musk has secured more than $7bn (£5.7bn) in funding for his $44bn takeover of Twitter from a group of investors including the tech tycoon Larry Ellison, the Qatar state investment fund and the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange.

It came as CNBC reported that Musk, the world’s richest person and Tesla chief executive, will serve as temporary chief executive of the social media platform for a few months once the deal closes.

The Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who had initially opposed the buyout, also agreed to roll his $1.9bn stake into the deal rather than cashing out, according to a filing with the US financial watchdog.

Musk’s financing plans for the Twitter deal have put pressure on shares in Tesla, the electric car company in which he is the largest shareholder, amid concerns he would sell stock to finance the agreed bid. However, the filing published on Thursday also revealed a margin loan taken out by Musk to finance the deal – secured against his 15.7% stake in Tesla – would be reduced from $12.5bn to $6.25bn.

“In this game of high stakes poker the impressive list of backers will remove more of an overhang from Tesla shares as the Musk leverage of shares now becomes less onerous,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, a US financial services firm. Ives added that the report Musk planed to run Twitter himself appeared to be weighing on Tesla’s stock despite the funding news, with the shares in the carmaker falling 7% to $884.56 in afternoon trading.

According to the filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Ellison is putting $1bn into the transaction. Ellison, who is worth about $95bn, made his fortune as the founder of the database-software business Oracle. A member of the Tesla board, he was one of the few top technology executives to openly support the presidency of Donald Trump and reportedly hosted a fundraiser for the politician in 2020 at his California estate.

The $7.1bn equity raising, plus the agreement with Prince Alwaleed, means Musk’s personal contribution to the equity element of the deal could be less than $20bn, according to one expert. Including the margin loan, Musk has now reduced his total financial commitment by almost $9bn.

“Elon has been chipping away at his financial commitments, both straight equity and via personal margin loans, since the deal was announced,” said Drew Pascarella, a senior lecturer of finance at Cornell University in the US. “Today’s new third-party equity commitments – totaling $9bn, including Price Alwaleed’s almost $1.9bn equity rollover – brings Elon’s total commitments down from $33.5bn to as low as $24.6bn.”

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The Tesla chief executive will continue to hold talks with existing shareholders of Twitter, including the company’s co-founder Jack Dorsey, who has the second-largest individual stake in the company after Musk, to contribute shares to the proposed acquisition, the filing showed. Musk owns 9.6% of Twitter.

Alongside Ellison, the co-investors include Sequoia Capital, a US venture capital fund, which has pledged $800m, and the Dubai-based Vy Capital, which has promised $700m, according to the SEC filing. Qatar Holding, which is part of the Qatar Investment Authority, is putting in $375m as part of the deal, while Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platform, is contributing $500m.

Twitter’s current chief executive, Parag Agrawal, has only been in post for a few months, after taking over from Dorsey in November last year.