Twitter and Elon Musk will go to trial in October over whether the billionaire must complete his $44 billion acquisition of the social media company, a Delaware judge ruled Tuesday.
The ruling was the first decision in a lawsuit filed by Twitter this month to force Mr. Musk, the world’s richest man, to go through with the blockbuster deal. Mr. Musk agreed to buy Twitter in April, but indicated this month that he wanted to stop the purchase. Twitter sought to expedite the case by requesting a trial in September, which Mr. Musk countered by requesting a trial in February.
In a nearly two-hour hearing Tuesday, Kathleen St. J. McCormick, the judge overseeing the case in the Delaware Court of Chancery, ruled that the trial will take place in October.
“The longer the merger transaction drags on, the greater the cloud of uncertainty hangs over the company,” he said.
The ruling was a win for Twitter, which said an extended timeline would give Mr. Musk more time to badger the company and get out of the deal. Ms. McCormick ruled that the trial would last five days, with the exact date to be determined based on the court schedule and the lawyers in the case.
“We are pleased that the court agreed to expedite this trial,” a Twitter spokesperson said. A spokesman for Mr Musk’s legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When Mr. Musk agreed to buy Twitter, he said he would take it personally and that the company had great potential. But within weeks, he began arguing that Twitter had obstructed his efforts to understand how many accounts were fake on its platform, saying the company was not releasing relevant information to him.
Twitter said Mr Musk was looking for a way out of the buyout as the stock market fell. The company said it worked with Mr. Musk to provide him with information about the fake account.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Twitter insisted on settling the case as quickly as possible. Bill Savitt, a lawyer for Twitter, said the “constant uncertainty” over the deal “hurts Twitter every hour of every day” and asked to schedule a trial for September. The postponement would allow Mr. Musk to wind down the financing clock for the deal, Mr. Savitt said.
Mr. Musk’s lawyers said the billionaire needed more time to analyze the extraordinary amount of data to determine whether Twitter had accurately counted the number of unverified accounts on its platform.
Twitter was trying to “shroud” its bot statistics, Mr Musk’s lawyer Andy Rossman said, “as long as the deal needed to be railroaded.”