Tesla boss Elon Musk has offered to buy Twitter, saying he is the right person to “unlock” the social media platform’s “extraordinary potential”.
In a surprise announcement, Mr Musk said he would pay $54.20 a share for Twitter, valuing the firm at $41bn.
It recently emerged that Mr Musk was Twitter’s biggest shareholder after he built up a large stake in the firm.
He said that if his offer was not accepted: “I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder”.
In a filing with the US financial regulator, Mr Musk said: “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.
“However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”
He added: “Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it.”
Twitter had offered Mr Musk a seat on its board after it emerged that he held a 9.2% stake in the company.
The role was set to become effective last weekend but then Mr Musk decided against taking it.
Twitter’s chief executive Parag Agrawal tweeted that he thought the decision by Mr Musk not take a seat on the board was “for the best”.
He added: “We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on our board or not. Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input.”
Though he also warned staff: “There will be distractions ahead.”
After that announcement, Mr Musk posted a cryptic tweet of smiling emoji with its hand over its mouth.