An epic legal fight between Elon Musk and Twitter began in earnest in a Delaware court on Tuesday as lawyers for both sides fought over how soon the trial should begin.
Twitter is trying to force the billionaire to make good on his April promise to buy the social media giant for USD 44 billion — and the company wants it to happen quickly because it says the ongoing dispute is harming its business.
Musk, the world’s richest man, pledged to pay USD 54.20 a share for Twitter, but now wants to back out of the agreement.
“It’s attempted sabotage. He’s doing his best to run Twitter down,” said attorney William Savitt, representing Twitter in Delaware’s Court of Chancery before the court’s Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick.
The hearing was held virtually after McCormick said she tested positive for COVID-19.
Musk has claimed the company has failed to provide adequate information about the number of fake, or “spam bot”, Twitter accounts, and that it has breached its obligations under the deal by firing top managers and laying off a significant number of employees.
But the idea the Tesla CEO is trying to damage Twitter is “preposterous. He has no interest in damaging the company”, said Musk’s attorney Andrew Rossman, noting he is Twitter’s second largest shareholder with a far larger stake than the entire board.
Savitt emphasised the importance of an expedited trial starting in September for Twitter to be able to make important business decisions affecting everything from employee retention to relationships with suppliers and customers.
Rossman said more time is needed because it is “one of the largest take-private deals in history” involving a “company that has a massive amount of data that has to be analysed. Billions of actions on their platform have to be analysed”.