A Delaware judge has granted Elon Musk’s request to put his legal battle with Twitter on hold until the end of the month in order to give them time to close the billionaire’s proposed $44bn buyout of the social media company.
On Monday, Musk proposed buying Twitter at the originally agreed price of $54.20 per share, on the condition that litigation over his previous attempt to walk away from the deal is stayed. A trial was scheduled to begin on October 17 in a Delaware Chancery court.
Kathaleen McCormick, the judge overseeing the case, on Thursday agreed to stay the legal action in order to allow the two parties to close the deal.
However she stipulated that if the transaction had not closed by 5pm on October 28, she would set a new trial date for November.
In a court filing earlier on Thursday, lawyers for Musk said debt financing parties were “working cooperatively to fund the close” of the deal, which they expected to take place “on or around October 28”.
But Musk’s lawyers accused Twitter of “not taking yes for an answer” and resisting his request to halt the litigation “based on the theoretical possibility of a future failure to obtain the debt financing”.
Twitter had so far insisted “on proceeding with this litigation, recklessly putting the deal at risk and gambling with their stockholders’ interests”, they added.
The social media group hit back swiftly in response, saying in a separate filing that Musk’s proposal was “an invitation to further mischief and delay”. Twitter argued that Musk’s team should be arranging to close the transaction on October 10 but instead “refuse to commit to any closing date”.
“Defendants can and should close next week,” the company added. “Until they do, this action is not moot and should be brought to trial.”
Twitter has been leery of Musk, who has already tried to walk away from the deal, which was initially agreed in April, citing concerns over fake accounts. He took many by surprise when he indicated earlier this week that he intended to close the deal on the original terms.
According to several people familiar with the situation, the company had until now resisted quickly agreeing to halt the trial until it was certain it could bind Musk to keeping his word this time.
Musk’s lawyers had said in their filing that the financing remained on course, but added that should it fail he could then get out of his obligation to close the deal, a position Twitter would be likely to contest.
In its filing, Twitter said one of the lending banks had testified on Thursday that Musk had “yet to send them a borrowing notice” or communicate that he intends to close the deal.
Separately on Thursday, a lawyer for Musk, Alex Spiro, disputed reports that Musk had previously approached Twitter about a price cut, which the company refused. According to Spiro, Twitter had offered Musk “billions off the traction price” but Musk refused “because Twitter attempted to put certain self-serving conditions on the deal”.