Elon Musk wanted to back out of Twitter deal because of World War III. Here's what the lawyers said in court

Musk texted a Morgan Stanley banker, two weeks after he publicly announced his intent to buy Twitter.
Ameya Paleja
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Why Elon Musk backed out of Twitter deal

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The potential of World War III appears to be a reason why the world's richest person, Elon Musk, wanted to call off his buyout offer for Twitter, Business Insider reported. The excuse was cited by Twitter's lawyers as part of the pre-trial hearing when the two sides met in the court of law on Tuesday.

The Elon Musk saga of the Twitter buyout is entering a crucial phase now, with lawyers for the Tesla CEO looking to push back the trial. Twitter's lawyers are keen to keep the trial on schedule next month and hope that the court forces Musk to sign off on his offer of $44 billion for the social media outlet.

Musk's lawyers had previously sought the trial to be delayed until February next year but failed. On Wednesday, Tesla's lawyers were seeking to delay the trial again, this time by at least four weeks, Ars Technica reported. They argued in the Delaware Court of Chancery that the termination date of October 24, 2022, for the merger agreement would automatically be stayed if litigation began.

Musk's apprehension of World War III

Twitter's lawyers, however, argued that delays to the trial would cause irreparable harm to the company and were undermining the company's ability to operate. To demonstrate that Musk was reconsidering his offer, Twitter's lawyers read out a text that Musk had sent to Michael Grimes, head of global technology investment banking, on May 8, two weeks after his proposal to buy out Twitter.

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In the text, Musk allegedly wrote that he wanted to "slow down just a few days" and wait for Vladimir Putin's speech scheduled on May 9 to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany. Musk allegedly said in the text, "It won't make sense to buy Twitter if we're heading into World War 3." In the speech the next day, Putin justified his decision to invade Ukraine and claimed that the West was looking to invade Russia, Business Insider said in its report.

Musk's lawyers, however, argued that the characterization of the texts in the court was "utter nonsense" and that they would submit the full-text chain to the court next week.

The question of the whistleblower complaint

While rejecting Musk's appeal to delay the trial, the judge also allowed Musk and his lawyers to include in their countersuit a whistleblower complaint by Peiter Zatko, a former security chief at Twitter.

In his complaint, Zatko has alleged that Twitter is guilty of lying about bots to Musk. The Tesla CEO has made the estimation of the number of bots on Twitter as his ground for walking away from the deal, and Zatko's complaint could help Musk's argument. However, Ars Technica elaborated that the complaint does not disprove Twitter's public disclosure that less than five percent of its monetizable daily active users (mDAU) are spam or fake.

Twitter's lawyers counter Zatko's claims by saying that his work at the company wasn't related to counting spam or bot accounts, and including the complaint in the trial was Musk's way to slow down the court proceedings when they were hoping for an expedited trial.

These instances are just the beginning of the fireworks that can be expected to fly when the Twitter-Musk duel goes to trial on October 17.

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