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Elon Musk says he has $46.5bn lined up to buy Twitter | Business and Economy News

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Elon Musk says he has lined up $46.5bn in financing to buy Twitter, and he’s trying to negotiate an agreement with the company.

Last week, Musk announced an offer to buy the social media company for $54.20 per share, or about $43bn. At the time, he did not say how he would finance the acquisition.

The Tesla CEO said Thursday in documents filed with United States securities regulators that he’s exploring what’s known as a tender offer to buy all of the social media platform’s common stock for $54.20 per share in cash. Under a tender offer, Musk, who owns about 9 percent of Twitter shares, would take his offer directly to other shareholders, bypassing the board.

But Musk hasn’t decided yet whether to do that.

The documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission say San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. has not responded to Musk’s proposal.

Twitter said in a statement Thursday that it has received Musk’s updated proposal and its “new information on potential financing.”

The company said its board is “committed to conducting a careful, comprehensive and deliberate review to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the company and all Twitter stockholders.”

Last week Twitter’s board adopted a “poison pill” defense that could make a takeover attempt prohibitively expensive.

The filing states that “entities related to (Musk) have received commitment letters committing to provide an aggregate of approximately $46.5 billion.”

The financing would come from Morgan Stanley and other financial institutions. Other banks involved include Barclays, Bank of America, Societie Generale, Mizuho Bank, BNP Paribas and MUFG. Morgan Stanley is one of Twitter’s biggest shareholders, behind Vanguard Group and Musk.

Musk said that $13bn in financing came from Morgan Stanley and the other banks, as much as $12.5bn would be loans secured by his Tesla stock, and committed $21bn in equity, “directly or indirectly” from him, although he didn’t say what the source of those funds would be. The filing says that the equity commitment could be reduced by contributions from others or additional debt taken on.

Musk is the world’s wealthiest man, according to Forbes, with a nearly $279bn fortune. But much of his money is tied up in Tesla stock — he owns about 17 percent of the company, according to FactSet, which is valued at more than $1 trillion — and SpaceX, his privately held space company. It’s unclear how much cash Musk has.

Electric car and solar panel maker Tesla allows executive officers to use shares as collateral for loans, but limits the borrowing to 25 percent of the value of the pledged shares. Musk owns 172.6 million shares worth $176.47bn. Just over 51 percent of his stake already is pledged as collateral, according to a Tesla proxy statement. That means Musk could use the remaining stake to borrow about $21.5bn.

Getting financing from big banks brings a lot of credibility to Musk’s bid, said Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives.

“This isn’t just Musk antics,” Ives said. “Banks were going to line up for this deal from the richest person in the world. The fact they they pulled it together this quick shows that Musk isn’t joking around. This is a real bid.”

Ives said the tender offer puts more pressure on Twitter’s board to find a second bidder or go to the negotiating table with Musk. “It’s a way to get around the poison pill and let shareholders speak,” he said.

A Delaware corporation named X Holdings 1 was formed at the direction of Musk and some affiliates who intend to “acquire, directly or indirectly, all of the outstanding equity interests of, or directly or indirectly merge with Twitter Inc.,” according to a financing commitment letter the company submitted.

Shares of Twitter rose slightly to $46.86 in Thursday midday trading after the financing became public. The share price is $7.34 below Musk’s offer.

Musk “is seeking to negotiate a definitive agreement for the acquisition of Twitter … and is prepared to begin such negotiations immediately,” the documents say.

With a tender offer, Musk would try to get other shareholders to pledge their stock to him at a certain price on a certain date. If enough shareholders agree, Musk could use that as leverage to get the board to drop the poison pill defense.

Musk signaled the possibility of a tender offer several times this week in tweets using the word “tender.”



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Wimbledon’s Russia, Belarus ban on collision course with ATP, WTA | Tennis News

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Wimbledon stripped of ranking points by sport’s main tours in a move that threatens to reduce Grand Slam to exhibition status.

The world’s most prestigious tennis tournament is on a collision course with the sport’s global governing bodies after Wimbledon had its ranking points stripped by the ATP and WTA tours over excluding players from Russia and Belarus.

According to the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the women’s and men’s professional tennis tours will not award ranking points for Wimbledon this year because of the All England Club’s ban on players from Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine, an unprecedented move that stands as a significant rebuke of the sport’s oldest Grand Slam tournament.

The WTA and ATP announced their decisions on Friday night, two days before the start of the French Open – and a little more than a month before play begins at Wimbledon on June 27.

The All England Club (AELTC) said in April it would not allow Russians or Belarusians to compete, which drew immediate criticism from the WTA and the ATP, along with some prominent players, such as defending champion Novak Djokovic. It will bear watching how this whole episode affects the relationships among the various entities that have a say in the way tennis is run.

“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our tour,” the ATP said in a statement. “The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP ranking system.”

Saying it made this move “with great regret and reluctance,” the ATP added: “Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the tour. Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a tour that operates in more than 30 countries.”

The AELTC on Friday said it was considering its options and was in discussions with its Grand Slam colleagues.

“We remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime,” the AELTC said in a statement.

“We therefore wish to state our deep disappointment at the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF in removing ranking points for The Championships.

“We believe these decisions to be disproportionate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we found ourselves in, and damaging to all players who compete on Tour.”

Ranking integrity

WTA chief Steve Simon said the tour believes athletes participating in an individual sport “should not be penalised or prevented from competing solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries.”

“The recent decisions made by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes from competing in the upcoming UK grass court events violate that fundamental principle,” Simon said.

“As a result of the AELTC’s position that it will not honour its obligation to use the WTA Rankings for entry into Wimbledon and proceed with a partial field not based on merit, the WTA has made the difficult decision to not award WTA ranking points for this year’s Wimbledon Championships.”

Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev
Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in action during his third-round match against Croatia’s Marin Cilic at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in July 2021 [File: Peter Nicholls/Reuters]

Ban slammed

Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian competitors has been slammed by top players such as 21-times Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal who labelled it unfair, while world number one Novak Djokovic said he did not support the decision.

The ban has ruled out a swath of top players, including men’s world number two Daniil Medvedev and last year’s women’s semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus as well as two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka.

Medvedev, speaking in Paris before the ATP decision was announced, said he would not resort to legal action against Wimbledon but admitted “there are a lot of mistakes” behind the controversial decision.

“If I can’t play, I’m not going to go to court for this one,” 26-year-old Medvedev said.

The ban has been widely condemned especially as Russian and Belarusian players are still allowed to compete at other tournaments including the second Grand Slam of the season at the French Open which starts in Paris on Sunday.

“It’s unfair for my Russian colleagues,” said Spanish star Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon winner, when the sanction was announced. “It’s not their fault what’s happening with the war.”



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Israeli missile strikes kill 3 near Syria’s capital | Syria’s War News

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Missiles were fired from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and some were intercepted by Syrian air defences.

Israeli surface-to-surface missiles have killed three people near the Syrian capital, Damascus, state media reported.

The missiles came from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and some were intercepted by the Syrian air defences, an unnamed military source said on Friday.

“The Israeli enemy carried out an aggression … that led to the death of three martyrs and some material losses,” Syria’s official news agency SANA quoted the source as saying.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the three people killed were military officers and four other members of an air defence crew were wounded.

The Israeli strikes targeted Iranian positions and weapon depots near Damascus, the monitor said.

A fire broke at one of the positions near the Damascus airport where ambulances were seen rushing to the site of the attack, according to the Syrian Observatory.

The Israeli military declined to comment.

Syria Israel Golan Heights map

The latest strike follows one on May 13 that killed five people in central Syria, and another near Damascus on April 27, which according to the Syrian Observatory killed 10 combatants, among them six Syrian soldiers, in the deadliest raid in 2022.

Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes there, targeting government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.

While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes, it has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of attacks.

The Israeli military has defended the military operations as necessary to prevent its arch foe Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.

The conflict in Syria has killed nearly half a million people and forced about half of the country’s prewar population from their homes.



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Taiwan delays scheme to help Hong Kongers over spying fears | Politics News

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Taiwan has indefinitely delayed a scheme that would have made it easier for professionals from Hong Kong and Macau to become permanent residents or citizens, after concerns from politicians about possible infiltration by Chinese agents.

The scheme by the island’s Mainland Affairs Council would have allowed professionals who had worked for five years in Taiwan and earned an income at double the national minimum wage to apply for more permanent status. They would also not have been required to renounce their Hong Kong or Macau citizenship if they applied to become Taiwanese, unlike ordinary citizens of China.

Most foreign professionals can apply for permanent residency after five years of employment but people from Hong Kong and Macau were required to meet other criteria such as having Taiwanese family, a Taiwanese spouse, or working in specific industries.

Legislator Lo Chih-cheng, who heads the ruling Democratic People’s Party international affairs department, said lawmakers were concerned that it was difficult to determine who was a real “Hong Konger” or “Macanese”.

“Some people in Taiwan tend to see the so-called Hong Kong people as different from the Hong Kong people they used to know,” he said. “There are concerns about China’s infiltration into Hong Kong society and there are also concerns about Hong Kong people working for Beijing.” 

Taiwanese were vocal supporters of Hong Kong’s 2019 democracy protests, which have been credited with giving a boost to President Tsai Ing-wen’s 2020 re-election campaign, which had been struggling in the months before the demonstrations began.

The protests and their aftermath have carried extra significance to Taiwanese as an example of how Beijing’s promises cannot be trusted.

Limits to support

Former European colonies, Hong Kong and Macau were returned to Chinese sovereignty in the late 1990s and until recently enjoyed certain rights and freedoms not found in the mainland under the so-called “one country, two systems” framework that Beijing also offered as a potential governance structure for Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory.

For Hong Kong, “one country, two systems” was supposed to protect the territory’s special position and guarantee that people could continue their “way of life” with all its rights and privileges for at least 50 years.

The imposition of the national security legislation in 2020 has effectively ended those freedoms, while Macau is due to see stronger national security laws this year.

But while some of those involved in the protests have found refuge in Taiwan, the opposition to migration is an indication that even in Taiwan there are limits to how far it wants to go in supporting those fleeing Beijing.

Legislators from Tsai’s DPP and the pro-Taiwan independence New Power Party have been some of the most vocal in their concern about potential security risks.

“There’s a lot of almost unanimous symbolic support for Hong Kongers in the sense where Taiwanese can look at what’s happening in Hong Kong and be like ‘we don’t want that to happen to us, and we feel bad for what’s happening to Hong Kongers,’” said Lev Nachman, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard Fairbank Center.

“But that’s qualitatively different from say, substantive support in terms of policy. We see a lot of variation, meaning that not everyone wants a pro-Hong Kong policy,” he said.

Nachman led a research team in 2021 that surveyed 1,000 Taiwanese people about their feelings about Hong Kong and found that while most were sympathetic that did not translate into a desire for legislative action, according to results published in Foreign Policy.

Ever since their return to Chinese rule and the relaxation of visa requirements, Hong Kong and Macau have emerged as popular destinations for mainland Chinese. Hong Kong’s population has swelled by one million since its 1997 handover while Macau’s population has grown 50 percent from around 418,000 in 1999 to nearly 650,000, according to World Bank data.

Lo said many Taiwanese were also concerned about the potential competition posed by Hong Kong’s highly educated workforce, despite the likely boost for the island’s economy.

“Personally, I think we should take this opportunity to recruit the best talents from Hong Kong given the deterioration of human rights and freedom in Hong Kong, it is the best opportunity for Taiwan to recruit to attract the best talent,” he said.

Generational risk

Taiwanese have aired their scepticism about the new immigration scheme online, particularly from social media accounts associated with pro-Taiwan independence views, said Chen-en Sung, the deputy CEO of the Taiwan New Constitution Foundation, a government-aligned legal group.

 

He told Al Jazeera many of their concerns about Chinese infiltration by people from Hong Kong and Macau were hypocritical because Taiwanese have also worked on behalf of Beijing’s interests.

“Even if [new immigrants] are pro-China originally, I think Taiwan is an open society, and we have the capacity to accommodate those views, not to mention that a lot of our own citizens have pro-China and anti-independence views,” he said.

Eric Tsui Sing-yan, a visiting scholar at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, however, says there is reason for caution, despite having fled the city himself in 2020 for fear he could be investigated for two books he wrote on Hong Kong.

“This question is complicated. People from Hong Kong are not 100 percent safe because Hong Kong is a complex place with all sorts of people,” he told Al Jazeera, citing a decades-long infiltration campaign by the Chinese Communist Party from Hong Kong’s trade unions into the upper echelons of society.

Tsui said the issue largely comes down to demographics: most people under 30 are likely to be low risk due to their well-documented dislike of Beijing and pro-Hong Kong feelings, while older people with potential business ties to the mainland were higher risk.

He said Taiwan’s current policies unintentionally courted the second group by focusing on professionals and people capable of making substantial financial contributions.

“The current policy attracts high-risk groups and drives away the low-risk groups,” Tsui said. “Yes, there is a security risk, but it is not equal among all Hong Kongers. The risk is different in different generations.”

In 2020, Taiwan established an office to help those fleeing political prosecution in Hong Kong after about 200 former protesters fled there, according to activist estimates. Since then, the office has helped some 100 protesters, according to government media, although efforts have been hampered by two years of strict border controls to contain COVID-19.

The government is also not obligated to help any potential refugees as it is not party to any international refugee conventions due to Taiwan’s disputed political status.

Recently, however, measures were loosened to allow students from Hong Kong and Macau to study at Taiwanese high schools and vocational schools, while many already study at Taiwanese universities.

These measures do not directly apply to professionals from Hong Kong and Macau who are already working in Taiwan and would like to remain permanently.

About 11,000 people from Hong Kong moved to Taiwan last year, according to government data, a fraction of the 89,000 who left the city between June 2020 and June 2021.

The vast majority have instead chosen to move to the United Kingdom, the territory’s former colonial ruler, where anyone born before the 1997 handover – about 5.4 million people – is eligible for a special immigration scheme. The UK Home office says more than 100,000 people have applied for the scheme since January 2021.





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