Twitter 'working through' Musk acquisition, declines to offer update at annual meeting

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Twitter holds annual shareholder meeting

FOX Business host Stuart Varney discusses the upcoming Twitter shareholder meeting during the opening bell.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal declined to offer an update on the status of Elon Musk's $44 billion acquisition at the social media giant's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, citing "regulatory and other reasons."

"We are working through the transaction process," Agrawal told shareholders. "Even as we work towards closing this transaction, our teams and I remain focused on the important work we do every day to serve the public conversation. We’re continuing to make progress on our priorities and remain focused on delivering value to all of our customers. The decisions we make and the work we do now not only bolster how we navigate through this time but also support the long-term success of Twitter, which I care about deeply."

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TWTRTWITTER INC.37.10+1.22+3.40%

In April, Twitter's board accepted Musk's offer to take the company private at $54.20 per share. The deal is expected to close in 2022, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions. Twitter's current stock price is well below Musk's offer. 

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Musk has been critical of the platform's approach to free speech and has expressed interest in open sourcing Twitter's algorithm. He also said he would overturn the ban on former President Donald Trump's account.

"Silencing political commentary is antithetical to our commitment to free speech," Agrawal emphasized. "We operate our platform and our service all over the world in very different political context and use a consistent set of Twitter rules all around the world in order to improve the public conversation on the service. Our tools and processes aim to enforce these rules without any bias and do so dispassionately and equally for all users, regardless of their background, political affiliation, all around the world."

Agrawal noted that Twitter's goal is to "earn trust broadly" from its users. 

"In order to do so we continue to increase transparency and choice for people, we take responsibility for the mistakes we make, we seek input and feedback, we strive to learn from our mistakes and continue to evolve our approach as is, and as I said, we are constantly improving our product, our policies and our processes in order to earn more trust, he added. "We believe Twitter is a place for different voices and perspectives to be heard. Our rules are enforced objectively on content and accounts and our policies remain neutral to political identity and ideology."

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In addition, Musk has vowed to crack down on spam bots on the platform. 

On May 13, Musk said the deal was temporarily being put on hold as he awaited details supporting Twitter's internal estimate that spam and fake accounts make up less than 5% of the platform's users. The billionaire has said he believes at least 20% of Twitter users are spam or fake accounts and has suggested he would be willing to renegotiate the deal for a lower price proportionate to the total percentage.

Agrawal said in a May 16 Twitter thread that an external review to determine the percentage would be difficult given the "critical need to use both public and private information."

In the first quarter of 2022, Twitter's monetizable daily active user (mDAU) base grew 15.9% year-over-year to 229 million, including 39.6 million daily active users in the U.S. and 189.4 million international daily active users. 

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Though Musk did not attend the shareholder meeting, he was mentioned on the call numerous times by various shareholders whose proposals called for appointing a board member with expertise in human and civil rights, conducting an audit analyzing Twitter's impact on civil rights and non-discrimination and publishing a report on its lobbying activities and expenditures. 

None of those proposals were approved in the preliminary vote count. However, Twitter shareholders did approve proposals that would publish reports on the potential risks of using concealment clauses in the context of harassment, discrimination and other unlawful acts and on the company's electoral spending. 

The re-election of Musk ally Egon Durban, the co-head of private equity firm Silver Lake, was also blocked by investors. A shareholder vote on Musk's acquisition will take place a separate special meeting. 

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