Elon Musk said Friday that his $44-billion deal to buy Twitter was "temporarily on hold." The Tesla founder and billionaire said he was waiting for more information on the numbers of the social media company's false or spam accounts.
Musk linked his Twitter message to a Reuters report from May 2 about Twitter's daily active users in the first few months of 2022. The report said Twitter estimated that false or spam accounts made up less than 5 percent of all users. Musk also said Friday he was still "committed" to buying Twitter.
Stock in Twitter and Tesla moved in opposite directions after Musk's statements. Twitter shares were down to $38.06 in pre-market trading in New York. That is below the $54.20 per share offer from Musk. Shares of Tesla, Musk's electric car company, went up about 5 percent. Musk has already sold off more than $8 billion worth of his Tesla shares to pay for the Twitter purchase.
Twitter did not immediately answer requests for comment.
Susannah Streeter is an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, a British financial service company. She told Reuters that Musk "clearly would have already seen" Twitter's estimated number of false or spam accounts. She said his tweet Friday "may well be more part of the strategy to lower the price" he will have to pay Twitter.
Dan Ives is another analyst. He closely follows the financial activities of both Tesla and Twitter. He said, "Many will view this as Musk using this Twitter filing/spam accounts as a way to get out of this deal in a vastly changing market."
The agreement to buy Twitter does not permit Musk to walk away from the deal because of a poor business environment, such as a drop in advertising or a drop in the price of Twitter's stocks. Musk is also required to pay Twitter $1 billion if he does not complete the deal.
Musk has blamed Twitter for letting the number of spam accounts rise. And he said if he buys the company, he "will defeat the spam bots or die trying."
Musk has also been critical of Twitter's moderation policy. Earlier this week, he said he plans to end Twitter's ban on former U.S. President Donald Trump when he buys the social media company.
I'm Ashley Thompson.