Tesla CEO Elon Musk is working with Morgan Stanley to secure financing for his planned acquisition of social media platform Twitter. Sources with knowledge of the matter said the investment bank is now in talks with various investors interested in bankrolling Musk's ambitious and controversial plan.
Musk and Morgan Stanley are reportedly now looking at various debt packages and possibly taking out a loan against a portion of Musk's Tesla shares, which are worth more than $177 billion as of this week's prices.
Sources said Musk is attempting to put together a fully-funded offer as soon as this week, but the supposed timeline is far from certain. It is also uncertain whether Musk's attempt to buy the company will be successful.
Musk, currently the world's richest man with an estimated net worth of more than $255 billion, made an unsolicited offer for the social media platform last week, saying he wanted to take it private and allow individuals to express themselves more freely on the website. However, Wall Street viewed his offer with skepticism since he did not give information about how he would come up with the money to acquire the company.
If structured as a classic leveraged buyout, a bid for Twitter may be the largest acquisition in the previous two decades. Such an acquisition would also be very difficult to finance for any buyer, even for the world's richest man, as Twitter does not have the conventional financial profile of a debt-fueled purchase
The majority of leveraged buyout agreements involve firms with significant and consistent cash flows. However, Twitter's revenue growth has slowed, and the company's operations have been erratic over the past couple of years. Its annual earnings, excluding expenditures such as interest, are just about $1 billion, and bankers are wary of piling on too much debt with a company with earnings that small.
Musk is offering $54.20 per share for Twitter. According to some experts, the company's board of directors will likely accept only an offer of $60 per share or higher. When Twitter declared plans to quadruple its revenue last year, its stock soared above $70 a share, but it has since slumped to approximately $45 per share as investors doubted the company's capacity to reach those ambitions.
Musk, who began buying Twitter stock in January, was invited to join the company's board of directors earlier this month. Given his usage of the platform, Twitter's CEO, Parag Agrawal, and other board members said they welcomed Musk as a director. Musk has over 82.5 million Twitter followers and is active on the platform.