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Elon Musk has submitted a bid to buy Twitter TWTR, -1.68% for $43 billion. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has been buying equity in the social-media giant throughout most of 2022, and now he says he wants to take over the company in its entirety.
“Twitter has extraordinary potential,” Musk said. “I will unlock it.”
While Twitter says it will “carefully review” Musk’s “unsolicited” bid, it poses at least two hypotheticals: Who would have enough money to buy it, and who might have the interest in actually doing so?
Musk is by far the richest person in the world, with a net worth of $273 billion, and spending $43 billion on a Twitter buyout wouldn’t dent his fortune excessively, even were he to go it alone and pay cash, assuming a capacity to extract liquidity from, for example, his Tesla TSLA holdings without undermining valuation.
Musk’s bid is also much higher than Twitter’s $36.71 billion market cap as of Thursday morning (but, as Cowen analyst John Blackledge has suggested, hardly such a rich offer that the board, from a fiduciary-duty standpoint, would have a hard time batting it away).
Using Forbes’ billionaires list, 29 people possess the fortune to match or exceed Musk’s $43 billion offer to buy Twitter. Those names include such titans of industry as Amazon’s AMZN, -2.47% Jeff Bezos and Nike NKE, +4.68% founder Phil Knight, as well as Mike Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg and MacKenzie Scott.
Obviously, these names are only of those who theoretically, with their Forbes-tabulated wealth, could afford to purchase Twitter at a price in the vicinity of Musk’s valuation, and by no means should one infer any of them has an interest in owning the company.
The 29 billionaires on the list who could match Musk’s offer also include many tech moguls. Microsoft’s MSFT, -2.71% Bill Gates, Oracle’s ORCL, -0.38% Larry Ellison and Google’s GOOG, -2.33% GOOGL, -2.44% Sergey Brin all have tech backgrounds and the money to buy the company.
Others on the list, like Bernard Arnault, whose vast fashion-oriented empire includes the brands Louis Vuitton and Sephora, could also in theory afford a Twitter, experience and interest in the tech industry aside.
So who among these eligible buyers might hypothetically have the most interest?
Jeff Bezos is an obvious choice. With a $181 billion fortune, he can afford it, and he already has shown an interest in owning media properties as evidenced by his purchase of the Washington Post in 2013.
Michael Bloomberg, former Democratic presidential candidate and former mayor of New York, also fits the bill. Bloomberg’s net worth exceeds $82 billion, and he also has a strong interest in media properties as, famously, a founder in 1981 of the financial information and media company Bloomberg LP.
An under-the-radar name for this exercise could be Zhang Yiming. As the co-founder of ByteDance, the company that owns social-media platform TikTok, Yiming is one of China’s richest people, with a net worth of $49.5 billion.
Hypothetical bids from some of these billionaires would likely raise regulatory concerns. Any takeover plans from Zuckerberg or either of the Google founders, for example, could lead to concerns of monopolistic behavior.
It’s unclear at this time whether Twitter is going to be receptive to any sort of a takeover.
Twitter reportedly is holding an all-hands meeting with employees on Thursday afternoon to discuss Musk’s bid for the company.
Jefferies Equity Research Analyst Brent Thill opined that it could be a company, not an individual, who looks to buy Twitter. Thill named cloud-based software company Salesforce CRM, -3.22% and Microsoft as possibilities, citing Microsoft’s recent success with LinkedIn.
“It’s hard to see who the next logical player would be,” he said.
Thill was also skeptical that this is truly Musk’s “best and final” bid for Twitter.
“Could Elon,” he wondered aloud, “go higher?”
Source: This post first appeared on http://marketwatch.com/