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Elon Musk offers to buy Twitter for $41bn as he says takeover needed to uphold free speech

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Analysis by Ian King, business presenter

There has to be a strong chance that Mr Musk will succeed in winning control.

Not only is he offering a significant premium to Twitter’s share price before he began investing, there is not a competitive bidding situation here, with no other would-be buyers on the horizon.

Moreover, with his “take-it-or-leave-it” approach, Mr Musk has Twitter, in the jargon, in a ‘bear hug’. Twitter’s board know that, if he walks away, the share price will tank.

And many investors will snatch at an attractive offer.

The question is, if Mr Musk succeeds, what changes those would involve.

He has mused in the recent past, for example, about issuing an authentication ‘check mark’ for premium subscribers.

He may also look to move from an advertising-based model to make Twitter a business funded by subscriptions.

Another question is whether Mr Musk plans to try and buy Twitter outright.

With an estimated net worth of $265bn he can afford to, in theory, except a lot of that wealth is tied up in Tesla shares.

So it may well be that he will borrow against those shares, using them as security, although alternatively he could seek the backing of a private equity company.

The big question most Twitter users will have is whether the platform will change in character following a takeover.

Twitter’s management – both Mr Agrawal and before that the company’s co-founder Jack Dorsey – have tried hard, not always successfully, to make Twitter a platform where the discourse is reasonably civil.

That has included using moderation policies that a lot of people, presumably including Mr Musk himself, regard as too heavy-handed.

So some will fear a takeover might result in more trolling and, perhaps, a lifting of the ban on former US president Donald Trump.

All these are questions to which an answer will not immediately be available.

And that lack of clarity will leave many users – and especially Twitter employees – rather nervous.

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