MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
OK. Billionaire Elon Musk seems to have changed his mind again about Twitter, less than two weeks before a high-stakes trial. Twitter sued Musk for trying to back out of a deal to buy the social platform for about $44 billion. There were hearings, dozens of depositions, thousands of pages of discovery. And now, Musk says he is willing to go through with the deal after all.
NPR's Raquel Maria Dillon is covering this. Hey there.
RAQUEL MARIA DILLON, BYLINE: Hello.
KELLY: So hello, whiplash. What do we know about Elon Musk's change of heart?
DILLON: Yeah, few details so far. Yesterday, he was tweeting about a peace deal in Ukraine. Today, an about-face, and suddenly he wants to buy Twitter again. We do know that Musk sent a letter to Twitter that said he was willing to go through with the deal. And that means paying $54.20 a share or about $44 billion. And that seemed like a lowball offer back in April. But then tech stocks had a rough couple of quarters, and now that price is actually a great deal for Twitter. That is why Twitter's stock closed up about 22% today.
KELLY: Did this take just everyone by surprise, you by surprise?
DILLON: The whole case has been a surprise. I mean, even from the beginning, when Musk first said he was going to buy Twitter, everything that followed has been highly unusual, except maybe to corporate lawyers like Professor Ann Lipton of Tulane University.
ANN LIPTON: In some ways, it's the most natural thing in the world. The fact that this has been so unprecedented in a sort of colorful way, you know, kind of makes people forget the legal fundamentals. Cases settle just before they go to trial. They settle just before the top people are deposed.
DILLON: Or in this unusual case, just a few days after Musk's private messages were made public. They show how impulsive he was about this acquisition. Also, this offer comes just a couple days before Musk is scheduled to sit for a deposition. In the end, what's surprising is that Musk is now willing to pay the original full price.
KELLY: OK. So he says he'll pay the original full price. Twitter wants him to pay up. So is this done deal, game over, we're good to go?
DILLON: No. This has been a knock-down, drag-out fight. And Twitter has every reason to be suspicious that this is some sort of gambit from Musk to delay the trial. A company spokesperson sent out a brief statement that said the intention of the company is to close the transaction at the agreed upon price. It's likely Twitter will ask the court for reassurances that Musk really means it and stipulations so he won't try to back out this time.
KELLY: Stipulations - elaborate on that.
DILLON: There has been so much drama in this case. Remember, Musk sought out Twitter, not the other way around. Once Twitter agreed to sell, Musk almost immediately started badmouthing it in public, questioning how many real people use the platform as opposed to, say, bots or spam accounts and finally saying he didn't want it. As of right now, the trial date is still October 17. And the parties have until then to agree to a settlement.
KELLY: In the 30 seconds or so we have left, what does this say about Elon Musk as a businessperson? I mean, not that he's asking, but none of this leaves me burning to cut a deal with Elon Musk.
DILLON: Well, he's still known as an ambitious, hard-working, successful businessman who can raise a lot of money really quick. But his behavior throughout all of this might have scared off some of those investors and embarrassed his rich and powerful Silicon Valley friends, maybe even hurt his own interests. The irony is that he made Twitter look pretty bad. And now, he's very likely to own it.
KELLY: NPR's Raquel Maria Dillon, thanks so much.
DILLON: Thank you. My pleasure.
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