Saudi billionaire changes tune, says Elon Musk ‘excellent’ for Twitter


The Saudi prince who initially rejected Elon Musk’s takeover bid of Twitter now says he welcomes the move after joining a group of billionaire investors in helping the Tesla boss secure funding for the $44 billion transaction.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud tweeted to Musk on Thursday: “Great to connect with you my ‘new’ friend.”

“I believe you will be an excellent leader for Twitter to propel and maximise its great potential.”

The Saudi royal, who is one of the richest men in the desert kingdom, said he and his company, Kingdom Holding Company, were “looking forward to roll [over] our ~$1.9bn [stake] in the “new” Twitter and join you on this exciting journey.”

Last month, just days after Musk announced his offer to buy out Twitter shareholders for $54.20 per share, the prince tweeted: “I don’t believe that the proposed offer by @elonmusk ($54.20) comes close to the intrinsic value of @Twitter given its growth prospects.” 

“Being one of the largest & long-term shareholders of Twitter, @Kingdom_KHC & I reject this offer.”

Hours later, Musk responded with a jab at Saudi Arabia’s free speech and human rights record. 

“Interesting. Just two questions, if I may,” Musk replied to the prince. “How much of Twitter does the Kingdom own, directly & indirectly? What are the Kingdom’s views on journalistic freedom of speech?” 

The dispute now appears to be water under the bridge. Prince Alwaleed is now apparently willing to contribute 35 million of his own shares of Twitter — worth $1.9 billion — to retain an investment once Musk takes the firm private, according to filings.

Last month, the Saudi royal rejected Musk’s buyout offer of $54.20 a share.
AFP via Getty Images

It is unclear what prompted the prince to change his mind about Musk’s takeover of Twitter. After the board initially rejected Musk’s buyout offer, the Tesla boss reached out to members to go over the details of his plan to make the company more profitable.

Prince Alwaleed chairs the Kingdom Holding Company, the Riyadh-based conglomerate that first purchased shares of Twitter in 2011 before the company’s 2013 initial public offering.

KHC also holds large stakes in a wide range of businesses including the Four Seasons hotel chain, Uber, Lyft, and Citigroup.

The Saudi royal's statement of support comes as Musk secured more funding  from investors for his takeover of Twitter, including Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.
The Saudi royal’s statement of support comes as Musk secured more funding from investors for his takeover of Twitter, including Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.
Getty Images

Saudi Arabia frequently surveils and arrests journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders, which ranks the country as one of the worst in the world for press freedom. And the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was personally approved by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, according to US intelligence. 

Bloomberg News reported last week that Musk secured financing for his bid by pledging to enact job cuts and other cost-cutting measures, such as slashing executive pay.

Earlier on Thursday, Musk revealed in an SEC filing that he managed to secure more than $7 billion in funding to take Twitter private.

Among the 19 investors that committed to buying a stake in a Musk-controlled company were Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, who is willing to put down $1 billion; Sequoia, which has pledged $800 million; VyCapital ($700 million); Binance ($500 million); and Andreessen Horowitz ($400 million).

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Musk has plans to take Twitter public once again in as little as three years after buying the company.

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