Elon Musk cited a Putin speech in private texts with a banker saying the Twitter deal wouldn't make sense 'if we're heading into World War 3'
- Elon Musk in a private text said it might not "make sense" to buy Twitter amid the war in Ukraine.
- Musk said this months before formally attempting to back out of the $44 billion acquisition.
Elon Musk wanted to "slow down" his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter months after Russia invaded Ukraine, saying in private texts that it wouldn't make sense to buy Twitter "if we're heading into World War 3."
These texts came to light in a hearing Tuesday about pushing back a trial in October over Musk's deal to buy Twitter, along with other disputes about discovery. Musk told Twitter in July he was officially backing out of his agreement to buy the company in a letter that argued Twitter had wrongfully withheld data on "bots" and spam accounts.
The text messages were sent May 8 to a banker at Morgan Stanley, which is financing part of Musk's deal. In these texts, the billionaire also cited a coming speech from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin gave a speech May 9 for the 77th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany, where he said Russia's decision to invade Ukraine in February was the "only right decision" and baselessly claimed the West was "preparing for invasion of Russia."
"Let's slow down just a few days," Twitter's lawyer said, reading out Musk's texts during the hearing. "Putin's speech tomorrow is really important. It won't make sense to buy Twitter if we're heading into World War 3."
A lawyer for Musk, Alex Spiro of Skadden Arps, said the characterization of the texts in court was "utter nonsense as the full text chain shows." The full text chain is expected to be filed on the court docket next week.
Musk signed an agreement in April to buy Twitter and take it private. When Musk said he was dropping the deal in July, Twitter almost immediately sued him to enforce the contract and make Musk acquire it at the agreed-upon $44 billion price. Musk is widely seen to be on the back foot in the court battle, set to go to a five-day trial in early October.
Before Tuesday's hearing, Musk's lawyers cited a whistleblower complaint from Peiter Zatko, Twitter's former chief information-security officer, who told Congress last month in a formal disclosure that Twitter was inadequately dealing with various security issues. They said the issues Zatko presented called for more time.
In reading Musk's texts, Twitter's lawyer reiterated the company's argument that Musk was in contractual breach and his only motivation for trying to get out of the deal was personal financial concerns. Lawyers for Musk argued during the hearing that Twitter hadn't found any evidence to support its theory that he dropped the deal over economic concerns. "Their theory about what really happened isn't what really happened," his lawyer said at the hearing.
The Tesla CEO's legal team argues the social-media company intentionally misled him about the number of daily users and spam accounts on its site, amounting to fraud and breach of contract.
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