Elon Musk could be the dark horse savior of free speech, but a nemesis of former President Donald Trump is intent on making sure that doesn’t happen.
The billionaire Tesla mogul made a play for Twitter earlier this month when he became the majority shareholder with a 9.2 percent stake — but he upped the ante with an offer to buy the social media company outright on Thursday.
This predictably made the left apoplectic, given Musk’s outspoken support of free speech on the platform, but a formal rejection of the offer came from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, a Saudi Arabian investor who is also one of Twitter’s top shareholders.
“I don’t believe that the proposed offer by @elonmusk ($54.20) comes close to the intrinsic value of @Twitter given its growth prospects,” Alwaleed tweeted Thursday.
“Being one of the largest & long-term shareholders of Twitter, @Kingdom_KHC & I reject this offer.”
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.https://t.co/Jty05oJUTk pic.twitter.com/XpNHUAL6UX
— الوليد بن طلال (@Alwaleed_Talal) April 14, 2022
According to Barron’s, that price per share offer represents a 38 percent premium over the April 1 closing price and a 54 percent premium on the Jan. 28 closing price. Those dates are significant for valuation as Musk’s stake in the company was made public in April while the acquisition began in January.
Perhaps Alwaleed and other investors legitimately think that $43 billion cash is a lowball offer to turn the publicly-traded company into a private holding.
But maybe the real objection is that the singular owner would be someone like Musk who values the open exchange of ideas on the internet.
This is a threat to the status quo at Twitter where people accused of wrongthink are summarily kicked off the platform or, at the very least, suspended until they yield to the official narrative.
The most infamous voice to be silenced was then-President Donald Trump, who was banned for life while he was a sitting president.
Though Musk hasn’t promised to reinstate Trump, it’s reasonable to assume that Alwaleed is nervous that it’s just the kind of move that would make the price tag worth it to the firebrand South African investor.
Considering the history between the prince and the former president, the prospect of allowing Trump back onto the platform would be a humiliating experience for Alwaleed.
The two had a bitter Twitter feud back in December 2015 when Trump was still vying to become the Republican nominee for the 2016 presidential race.
After the San Bernadino terrorist attack, Trump had called for more restrictions on allowing Muslims into the nation, a sentiment which the prince vehemently opposed, according to the BBC.
“You are a disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America,” Alwaleed tweeted December 11, 2015.
“Withdraw from the U.S presidential race as you will never win,” he said at the time.
You are a disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America.
Withdraw from the U.S presidential race as you will never win.
— الوليد بن طلال (@Alwaleed_Talal) December 11, 2015
In Trump’s usual fashion, he responded by calling the prince “dopey” and promising that he wouldn’t allow Alwaleed to control American politicians with “daddy’s money” when he became president.
Once Trump was elected, Alwaleed came back to him hat in hand now that he had the power and the purse strings of the U.S. as president, according to Reuters.
If Musk does acquire the company and if he were to reinstate the former president, there’s still a good chance Alwaleed would have to face Trump’s brilliantly incisive and caustic insults once again.
Whatever the eventual outcome of Musk’s takeover bid, it’s clear that the enemies of free speech — and particularly of Trump — are running scared.
And that’s exactly how it should be.