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Elon Musk spars with Saudi prince over offer to buy Twitter

As one of Twitter's largest shareholders, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said he rejected the Tesla chief's offer to buy the media platform
Elon Musk has one of Twitter’s most popular accounts, with 81.6m followers (Reuters/File photo)

Elon Musk sparred with Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal on Twitter after the royal said he was rejecting the entrepreneur's cash offer for the social media platform - because it was too low.

The Saudi prince, who says he is a major Twitter shareholder, said he would reject Musk's "best and final" offer to buy 100 percent of the company for $43bn.

"I don't believe that the proposed offer by @elonmusk ($54.20) comes close to the intrinsic value of (Twitter) given its growth prospects. Being one of the largest & long-term shareholders of Twitter, @Kingdom_KHC & I reject this offer," the prince wrote.

Musk responded to the prince's rejection with an apparent jab at the kingdom's own media laws.

"Interesting. Just two questions, if I may," Musk replied. "How much of Twitter does the Kingdom own, directly & indirectly? What are the Kingdom’s views on journalistic freedom of speech?:

Twitter's share price skyrocketed earlier this month after Musk announced he had acquired a nine percent stake in the company, becoming its largest shareholder.

The Tesla chief had considered joining Twitter's board but ultimately rejected a seat at the company's table on Monday. According to Bloomberg, Musk's wealth hovers around $260bn.

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A canny user of the social media site himself, Musk has been critical of its policies on "free speech" and its business model, suggesting the company move from an ad-based business to one that relies on subscriptions.

He has said the platform needs to go private in order to change and unlock its true potential as a medium for free speech.

Alwaleed, who runs the Kingdom Holding Company, and is a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Salman, said in his tweet that he was one of the oldest and largest shareholders in Twitter.

In 2015, he and his company owned a 5.2 percent stake in the social media platform, though some estimates say that share has diminished over recent years.

The prince was among several royals detained at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh for nearly three months in late 2017, in what was described as an anti-corruption drive spearheaded by the kingdom's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.