Friday, December 2, 2022

Biden says Elon Musk’s foreign investors in Twitter are “worth being looked at”

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President Biden said on Wednesday that the role of foreign investors in funding Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter is “worth being looked at.”

Mr. Biden made the comment in response to a question at a press conference about whether Musk’s actions — including securing the backing of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia and Qatar Holding, an investment firm owned by the Arab country’s sovereign wealth fund, to help fund his deal to buy Twitter — could post a threat to U.S. national security. 

“I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” Mr. Biden said. “Whether or not he’s doing anything inappropriate, I’m not saying that, but it’s worth being looked at.” 

Musk financed much of the purchase through his own fortune, but $7.1 billion was provided by equity investors including fellow billionaire Larry Ellison as well as foreign sources, such as Prince Alwaleed and Qatar Holding, according to Reuters. 

The importance of Twitter “as a platform for political discourse in the U.S.” raises implications for national security, experts with the Brookings Institution, a liberal-leaning think tank, wrote on November 4. In their view, the Twitter deal should be investigated by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, an agency that reviews the national security implications of foreign investment in U.S. companies.


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“Given evolving trends in CFIUS decisions in other cases, President Biden would have strong grounds for blocking Musk’s Twitter acquisition or at the very least compelling the minority foreign investors to sell their equity to parties that would not pose a national security threat,” they said.

According to Brookings, other investors in Musk’s Twitter purchase have ties to China and the United Arab Emirates. 

Mr. Biden’s comments come after a turbulent start to Musk’s ownership of Twitter, which has included an advertiser revolt over concerns about the social media service’s oversight of content under his leadership and his decision to fire 3,700 employees, or roughly half its workforce. Meanwhile, Musk’s fortune has plummeted by $100 billion this year as Tesla’s stock price slumps amid the Twitter turmoil. 

“The Twitter circus show has been an absolute debacle from all angles since Musk bought the platform for all the world to see,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said Wednesday in a research note. “When does it end? The focus is Tesla or Twitter? Is this Twitter train wreck situation hurting/tarnishing the global brand of Musk and therefore Tesla?”

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