In the latest twist in Elon Musk's quest to buy Twitter, the Tesla CEO is clashing with a billionaire Saudi prince. Musk fired back Thursday after Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a major Twitter shareholder, said he rejects Musk's takeover bid, al-Jazeera reports. "I don't believe that the proposed offer by Elon Musk ($54.20 per share) comes close to the intrinsic value of Twitter given its growth prospect," the prince tweeted. He said as "one of the largest & long-term shareholders" of Twitter, he was rejecting the offer, reports Reuters. The prince, nicknamed the "Arabian Warren Buffett," is the CEO and majority owner of Kingdom Holding Company, which has large stakes in many major companies.
Musk called the tweet "interesting." He said he had two questions in response: "How much of Twitter does the Kingdom own, directly & indirectly? What are the Kingdom’s views on journalistic freedom of speech?" Human rights activists shared the Musk tweet, noting that the kingdom is notorious for cracking down on dissent. (And the US has linked the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to Saudi's crown prince.) "Disturbing to think that a Saudi Prince and Elon Musk are basically the two people determining the future of a global communications platform," Marc Owen Jones, a professor of Middle East studies, tweeted.
Musk also highlighted a report on two former Twitter employees who were arrested in 2019 for allegedly using their roles at the company to obtain information on Saudi dissidents. In his filing announcing a hostile takeover bid, Musk said "free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy." Later Thursday, he said he wasn't sure if he could pull off the $43 billion offer. The Wall Street Journal reports that recent filings show Musk was "momentarily" Twitter's biggest shareholder, but that title is now held by the Vanguard Group investment firm, with 10.2% of the stock. (Read more Twitter stories.)