T.Witter’s regularly scheduled shareholder meeting on Wednesday did not include a vote on Tesla billionaire Elon Musk’s $ 44 billion offer for the social platform. This vote will take place at a future date not yet determined.
CEO Parag Agrawal said at the outset that executives will not answer any questions about the proposal. A shareholder question asking what would happen to his stock if someone bought Twitter and took it privately was also rejected. (If this happens, the shareholder would be paid the agreed purchase price for each share and the share would be removed from listing.)
Musk did not join the meeting, although he could have, being a major shareholder of Twitter.
But the drama surrounding his offering – almost all created by Musk himself – threatened to spill over into Wednesday’s proceedings. Shareholders who raised voting proposals often invoked his name. One proposal, from the New York State Retirement Fund, called for a report on Twitter’s policies and procedures regarding political contributions using corporate funds. It passed in a preliminary vote.
Two proposals submitted by conservative-oriented groups failed to garner enough votes to pass. One called for a scrutiny of the company’s “impacts on civil rights and nondiscrimination” and referred to “anti-racism” programs that seek to establish “racial / social fairness” as “deeply racist oneself”. The other asked for more information on the company’s lobbying activities.
Read more: Social media hammered with growing questions about advertising
Several proposals spoke of the profound existential conflict that is taking place between users, employees, shareholders and employees of Twitter. While shareholders on the one hand have criticized the company for what they consider too liberal politics and a bias against conservatives (for which there is no reliable evidence), others have argued that the company is not protecting users from harassment, abuse. and disinformation.
Musk’s “free speech” edict – which he indicated would govern the company if he took control, without giving details – only ignited the conflict.
Musk had promised that the acquisition of Twitter would allow him to rid the social media platform of its annoying “spam bots.” But he argued, without presenting any evidence, that there may be too many of those automated accounts for the deal to move forward.
The abrupt turn of the richest man in the world doesn’t make much sense other than as a tactic to sink or renegotiate a deal that’s becoming more and more expensive for him, experts said last week. The fact that the whole thing is unfolding publicly – on Twitter, none the less – only adds to the chaos that has been a constant in Musk’s offer, even before he made it.
In early May, the fickle billionaire tweeted that the deal was “suspended” because he wanted to spot the number of spam and fake accounts on the social media platform after claiming that Twitter’s estimate is too low.
Experts say Musk can’t unilaterally suspend the deal, although that hasn’t stopped him from acting as if he could. If he leaves, he could be hooked for a $ 1 billion breakup fee. Alternatively, Twitter could sue Musk to force him to proceed with the deal, although experts believe that is highly unlikely.
Shares of Twitter were up $ 1.09, or 3%, to $ 36.83 on Wednesday’s early trading afternoon. Musk’s offering is $ 54.20 per share.
More stories to read from TIME