Twitter sets September shareholder vote on Elon Musk takeover

DOVER, Delaware — Twitter has set September 13 as the date its shareholders will vote on the company’s impending takeover by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The company said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that it recommends shareholders vote to see the $44 billion deal complete.

The date is ahead of the yet-to-be-clarified start date of the October trial in the dispute between the billionaire, who is seeking to drop the deal, and the San Francisco company. Twitter sued Musk in Delaware after he said he wanted out of the deal.

“We are committed to completing the merger at the price and on the terms agreed with Mr. Musk. Your vote at the special meeting is critical to our ability to complete the merger,” Twitter said in a letter to its shareholders.

Earlier on Tuesday, Musk’s lawyers accused Twitter of slowing the production of pretrial documents to decide whether the Tesla CEO should be forced into the deal.

Musk’s attorneys also said in a court filing that attorneys for Twitter Inc. refused to consent to a proposed Oct. 17 trial date and insisted the trial begin Oct. 10, using uncertainty over a trial date to delay further planning discussions.

Musk’s lawyers say Twitter’s proposed case schedule was “an obvious attempt to rush the defendants” after a Delaware Chancery Court judge agreed last week to hold an expedited trial in in a lawsuit filed by Twitter.

“Given the tight deadline, the court’s guidance is needed to break the deadlock and allow things to move forward quickly,” attorney Edward Micheletti wrote, asking Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick to grant the schedule proposed by Musk.

A Twitter spokesperson said the company had no comment on Tuesday’s court filing.

Musk agreed in April to buy Twitter and take it private, offering $54.20 a share and pledging to loosen the company’s control of content and weed out fake accounts. As part of the deal, Musk and Twitter had agreed to pay each other a $1 billion severance fee if either was responsible for the deal collapsing.

Twitter shares closed Tuesday at $39.34, well off their 52-week high of $71.92.

Musk, the world’s richest man, indicated earlier this month that he wanted out of the deal, prompting Twitter to file a lawsuit to hold him to what he describes as a “seller friendly” agreement.

Ahead of a trial in October, Micheletti told the judge on Tuesday that Twitter had refused to begin producing certain categories of material that are “obviously relevant” and “easily collected and produced.” He said Twitter’s lawyers instead asserted that several categories of documents are irrelevant, without identifying them.

Documents sought by Musk’s attorneys include Twitter board minutes and related documents, sales and advertising metrics, and manuals and policies regarding “monetizable daily active users or usage.” or mDAU. It’s a metric that Twitter uses to measure the number of people or organizations using its platform.

Musk said Twitter hasn’t given him enough information about the number of fake accounts on its service, but the company has estimated for several years that less than 5% of mDAUs are spam or fake accounts.

Musk’s attorneys also argue that Twitter refused to provide them with raw data it maintains in the normal course of business, which requires significant “machine time” and software development to process and analyze by expert witnesses. before the proposed Monday deadline.

Twitter said last month that it was making available to Musk a “fire hose” of raw data on hundreds of millions of daily tweets.

Musk’s lawyers are asking McCormick to approve an Oct. 17 trial date and order Twitter to immediately produce “background documents” and produce all raw data by Monday.

“Given the time until trial, every day counts,” Micheletti wrote.

Tuesday’s court filing suggests Musk plans to file his response to Twitter’s complaint later this week.

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Ortutay reported from Oakland, Calif.

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