Now it’s official: Elon Musk has completed the purchase of the short message service Twitter for around 44 billion dollars (44.2 billion euros). Twitter informed the US securities regulator SEC on Friday about the delisting, thereby confirming the completion of the takeover.

    This ends a month-long back and forth, which in the meantime was heading towards an explosive court case. Musk is now taking private ownership of the online network – the New York Stock Exchange has already taken the shares from trading. The tech billionaire also wants to set up a new management team.

    According to consistent US media reports, Musk fired senior executives on Thursday, including former company boss Parag Agrawal and CFO Ned Segal. Apparently he wanted to take over the top post himself. Only over time could he give the job to someone else, it was said. Musk tweeted that night, referring to the company’s logo, “The bird is freed.” He already leads the electric car manufacturer Tesla and the rocket company SpaceX.

    According to the star entrepreneur, buying Twitter is about strengthening freedom of speech. However, critics fear that the tone on the Internet platform will be brutalized and are concerned that the change of ownership could lead to more unbridled hate messages, hate speech and disinformation. The federal government said on Friday that it wanted to monitor developments on Twitter “very closely” after Musk’s takeover. EU Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton warned Musk in a tweet against making the short message service an unregulated platform: “In Europe, the bird will fly according to our EU rules”.

    Too lax moderation of content could also deter advertising partners and thus endanger Twitter’s most important source of income. Against this background, Musk wrote an open letter to the company’s advertising customers on Thursday. Twitter should not become a “place of horror” where anything can be said without consequences, he explained. The platform must be “warm and inviting for everyone”. Musk continued that he didn’t buy Twitter because it would be easy or to make more money. “I did it to help humanity I love.”

    Musk had actually agreed on the takeover with Twitter in April. In July, however, he declared the agreement invalid because of alleged misrepresentations about fake accounts. Twitter then sued for compliance with the purchase agreement. At the beginning of October, the head of the US electric car manufacturer Tesla surprisingly renewed his purchase offer, which led to the court proceedings being suspended. However, the responsible judge had given the parties to the dispute a deadline to complete the deal by October 28th. (dpa)

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