Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, a billionaire and Twitter’s biggest shareholder, turned down Elon Musk’s $41 billion cash offer for the company.
This led Musk to question Saudi Arabia’s commitment to free speech.
“I can’t believe that the offer made by @elonmusk ($54.20) is anywhere near the intrinsic value of @Twitter given its growth prospects,” tweeted @Alwaleed_Talal on Thursday (14/4), as reported by the New York Post.
“Being one of Twitter’s largest and long-term shareholders, @Kingdom_KHC & I turn down this offer,” continued the prince.
Some time later, Musk then responded by alluding to free speech and Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
“Interesting. Just two questions, if I may [ask],” Musk replied in response to Alwaleed’s tweet.
“How many Twitters does the Kingdom have, directly and indirectly? What is the Kingdom’s view on journalistic freedom of speech?” Musk asked.
Saudi Arabia is said to frequently monitor and arrest journalists. According to Reporters Without Borders, Saudi Arabia is one of the worst countries in the world for press freedom.
One such case is the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which was sanctioned by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, according to US intelligence.
Meanwhile, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud heads Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), the Riyadh-based conglomerate that first bought Twitter shares in 2011 before the company’s initial public offering in 2013.
KHC also holds large stakes in various businesses including hotel chains Four Seasons, Uber, Lyft and Citigroup.
Twitter shares traded higher earlier in the day on Wall Street, but have since lost early gains. The stock closed down 1.7 percent at $45.08.
Twitter Board members met Thursday morning to discuss Musk’s offer.
Despite Musk’s smack in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, the Tesla CEO did little more than take money from the Kingdom.
In August 2018 — months before Khashoggi’s killing — Musk claimed to have ‘earned funds’ to take Tesla from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund for US$420 per share in a deal that did not come to fruition.
The tweet resulted in a lengthy legal battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
There is also the reason Musk invested in Twitter because the platform has the potential as a platform for free speech.
“I invested in Twitter because I believe in its potential to become a worldwide free speech platform, and I believe free speech is a social imperative for a functioning democracy,” Musk wrote in a letter to Twitter chairman Bret Taylor.
Musk realized Twitter would not thrive or serve social imperatives in its current form. Therefore, according to him, Twitter needs to be changed as a private company.
“My offer is my best and last offer and if it is not accepted, I need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” Musk said.