FILE – Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020, in Washington. Elon Musk is threatening to end his $44 billion agreement to buy Twitter, accusing the company of refusing to give him information about its spam bot accounts. Lawyers for the Tesla and SpaceX CEO made the threat in a letter to Twitter dated Monday, June 6, 2022 that the social platform included in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (AP Photo)

DETROIT (AP) — Elon Musk is threatening to walk away from his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter, accusing the company of refusing to give him information about its spam bot and fake accounts.

Lawyers for the Tesla and SpaceX CEO made the threat in a letter to Twitter dated Monday that the company disclosed in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The lawyers wrote that Musk has repeatedly asked for the information since May 9, about a month after his offer to buy the company, so he could evaluate how many of the company’s 229 million accounts are fake.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has said that Twitter has consistently estimated that fewer than 5% of its accounts are spam. But Musk has disputed that, contending in a May tweet, without providing evidence, that 20% or more are bogus.

Shares of Twitter Inc. slid 1.5% Monday, likely incensing Twitter shareholders who filed a suit against Musk late last month for deflating the price of the stock. Shares of Twitter are down more than 20% in the last month.

Twitter said in a statement Monday that it has been cooperatively sharing information with Musk “in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement” and noted that the deal is in “the best interest of all shareholders.”ELON MUSKTexas AG strides into Twitter takeover drama to bolster MuskSC lawmakers meet briefly on $13B budget but reach no dealEXPLAINER: Is Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter falling apart?Business Highlights: Twitter deal doubts, stocks end higher

“We intend to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms,” it added.

Musk agreed to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share back in April. A number of Musk’s actions since, including a public spat with Twitter’s CEO about the fake accounts — on Twitter — has led some experts to question whether the billionaire wants to use his loud complaints to negotiate a lower deal price or even walk away entirely.

Musk’s lawyers wrote in the letter that Twitter has offered only to provide details about the company’s testing methods. But they contend that’s “tantamount to refusing Mr. Musk’s data requests,” and constitutes a “material breach” of the merger agreement that gives Musk the right to scrap the deal if he chooses.

“This is a clear material breach of Twitter’s obligations under the merger agreement and Mr. Musk reserves all rights resulting therefrom, including his right not to consummate the transaction and his right to terminate the merger agreement,” the letter says.

Musk wants underlying data to do his own verification of what he says are Twitter’s lax methodologies.

The Twitter sale agreement allows Musk to get out of the deal if there is a “material adverse effect” caused by the company. It defines that as a change that negatively affects Twitter’s business or financial conditions. Twitter has said all along that it’s proceeding with the deal, although it hasn’t scheduled a shareholder vote on it.

Last month Musk said that he unilaterally placed the deal on hold, which experts said he can’t do. If he walks away, he could be on the hook for a $1 billion breakup fee.

Musk’s latest maneuver shows how he is “looking for a way out of the deal or something that will get leverage for a renegotiation of the price,” said Brian Quinn, a law professor at Boston College. But Quinn said it’s unlikely to hold up in court since he already waived his ability to ask for more due diligence.

“I doubt he would be allowed to walk away,” Quinn said. “At some point, the board of Twitter will tire of this and file a suit” asking a judge to force Musk to stick to the deal.

Twitter has disclosed its bot estimates to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for years, while also cautioning that its estimate might be too low.

“If Twitter is confident in its publicized spam estimates, Mr. Musk does not understand the company’s reluctance to allow Mr. Musk to independently evaluate those estimates,” the Musk letter says, adding that he agrees not to disclose or keep the data.

The bot problem is a longtime fixation for Musk, who has more than 96 million Twitter followers and whose name and likeness are often mimicked by fake accounts promoting cryptocurrency scams. Musk appears to think such bots are also a problem for most other Twitter users, as well as advertisers who take out ads on the platform based on how many real people they expect to reach.

Musk’s lawyers are arguing that he is entitled to data about the core of Twitter’s business model so he can prepare the transition to his ownership. Citing a June 1 letter from Twitter in which the company said it only has to give information related to closing the sale, Musk’s team says the company is obligated to provide data for any reasonable business purpose needed to complete the deal.

Musk’s bot count skepticism was also taken up Monday by the chief legal officer of Texas, where Tesla is headquartered. Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said he’s launching an investigation because he has a “duty to protect Texans if Twitter is misrepresenting how many accounts are fake to drive up their revenue.”

——-

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On volatile border between India and China, a high-altitude military buildup is underway

0003

A close-up of a heliport under construction in Rutog County.

0001

On volatile border between India and China, a high-altitude military buildup is underway

0004

Construction crews are now scattered around Ladakh as Indian authorities speed up their infrastructure race with China.

0005

An overview of a heliport under construction near Aksai Chin Lake, in a region administered by China but contested by India, on May 28.

0002

An overview of a heliport under construction in Rutog County in the Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, on Nov. 28.

0003 0001 0004 0005 0002

BEIJING’S ISLAND-BUILDING IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

Runway

Runway

China is expanding the construction of its facilities on Fiery Cross Reef. Provided by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), this June 28, 2015 photo reveals Beijing has nearly completed a 3,000 meter (9,800-foot) airstrip, long enough to accommodate most Chinese military aircraft. Two h...

Expansion

Expansion

Reclamation on Fiery Cross Reef, which lies on the west side of the Spratly Islands, began in August of 2014 and its principal landmass was finished by November. Dredgers have created a land mass that spans the entire existing reef and is approximately 3,000 meters long and 200-300 meters wide.

Facilities

Facilities

This picture taken last November shows construction work being carried out on Fiery Cross Reef. The reef reportedly already houses a helicopter landing pad, a 300-meter-long wharf, a harbor large enough to dock military tankers, barracks and artillery emplacements.

South Johnson Reef

South Johnson Reef

This reef was one of the first facilities to finish principal land reclamation. This recent picture shows that a radar tower is nearing completion at the north end of the land mass. According to AMTI, a new large multi-level military facility has been built in the center of the island. Up to six sur...

A naval base?

A naval base?

Beginning in early 2015, Mischief Reef - also located in the Spratlys - has undergone extensive reclamation activity. Experts say that the recent widening of the southern entrance to the reef, coupled with sightings of Chinese navy vessels, may suggest a future role for the reclaimed reef as a naval...

From reef to island

From reef to island

Significant construction on Gaven Reef began in 2014, with a total of 114,000 square meters of land already created. Satellite pictures show just how fast construction has progressed on the reef. A new artificial island was created between March (left) and August (right) 2014.

Troop garrison

Troop garrison

According to AMTI, China has had a troop garrison on Gaven Reef since 2003, which has included a large supply platform where ships can dock. Experts say a new main square building in the reef appears to be an anti-aircraft tower.

A standardized process

A standardized process

As seen in this image, the basic process of expanding these features involves dredging sand from the seafloor and dumping it onto the reefs. The structure is raised above the high water line, hiding the status of the bank or reef beneath. The sand is then smoothed out and workers surround the island...

'Historic rights'

'Historic rights'

China claims most of the potentially energy-rich waterway, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The US Pacific Fleet commander recently said China was "creating a great wall of sand" in the South China Sea, causing serious concerns about its territorial intentions. Beijin...

Territorial disputes

Territorial disputes

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims, which have led to territorial disputes in the area. Last summer, China's deployment of a massive oil rig in waters also claimed by Hanoi escalated tensions in the region, sparking a standoff at sea and violent anti-C...

US concerns

US concerns

Washington is concerned China's efforts carry a military dimension that could undermine the US' naval and economic power in the Pacific, and has weighed sending warships and surveillance aircraft within 12 nautical miles of the new artificial islands. Washington has repeatedly called on Beijing and ...

Ecological impact

Ecological impact

The Philippines filed a formal plea at the UN last year, challenging Beijing's territorial claims. Manila said China's reclamation activities are causing "irreversible and widespread damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance of the South China Sea." It also claimed that the destruction of co...

Runway Expansion Facilities South Johnson Reef A naval base? From reef to island Troop garrison A standardized process 'Historic rights' Territorial disputes US concerns Ecological impact

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