The logo for social media company Twitter is displayed on the floor of the NYSE at the opening bell on Monday. Twitter's board later announced it has accepted a $44 billion buyout from Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
April 25 (UPI) -- The board of giant social media platform Twitter announced Monday it has accepted a $44 billion offer from SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk to purchase the company and take it private.
The company said that under the terms of the deal, Twitter stockholders will receive $54.20 in cash per share, representing a 38% premium to its April 1 stock price -- the last trading day before Musk disclosed his about 9% stake in Twitter.
"Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square, where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," Musk said in a statement.
"I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential -- I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it."
Board Chairman Bret Taylor said, "The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon's proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty and financing. The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter's stockholders."
The announcement came after reports that Musk would move ahead with his bid to acquire all of the outstanding shares of the company he didn't already own.
Musk said in a regulatory filing last week that he was attempting to acquire control of Twitter and made the offer of $46.5 billion for the company. He has said that the social platform is not living up to its potential as a communications giant.
Musk, who founded Tesla and SpaceX, has long been highly critical of Twitter and has promised to lead the platform to it "extraordinary potential." File Photo courtesy of Tesla
Twitter initially seemed hesitant to sell to Musk, going so far as to initiate a "poison pill" maneuver to block such an acquisition. The Wall Street Journal reported before the announcement that Twitter's board had changed its position.
Musk secured roughly $25 billion in loans from Morgan Stanley Senior Funding and other financial institutions, according to the regulatory filing. An equity financing commitment would cover the remaining $21 billion to buy Twitter.
Musk, 50, has long been a critic of Twitter policies and limitations and says that under his ownership would reach "extraordinary potential" as a private company. He began buying Twitter stock in large shares in January and had acquired 5% by March.
"If our Twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!" he tweeted Thursday.
Early Monday, shares of Twitter were trading for a little under $50 on the New York Stock Exchange, an increase of roughly 4%.
Musk has framed his pursuit of Twitter as a free speech issue he characterizes as "essential to democracy," but critics have noted the billionaire has shown a pattern of not tolerating criticism and using his Twitter platform to publicly mock people.
Some fear that Twitter under Musk may institute a hands-off policy on content meant to stir up social unrest after the billionaire decried the platform's decisions to bar some offensive posts as censorship.