Elon Musk has posted a cryptic tweet that has been seen as an indication he may be readying a new approach to buy Twitter.
The social media company launched a so-called “poison pill” move to make it harder for Mr Musk or any group of investors to amass a controlling stake in the company.
It came after the world’s richest man filed a $43bn proposal to buy Twitter and take it private. It was revealed last week that Mr Musk had built up a 9.1 per cent stake in Twitter and is the social media firm’s second-biggest shareholder.
On Sunday, Mr Musk kept investors guessing when he tweeted “Love Me Tender”, prompting a flurry of speculation online.
Some commentators have suggested the reference to the famous Elvis Presley song indicates that Mr Musk hopes to appeal directly to Twitter’s shareholders. Such a move might allow him to bypass Twitter’s board.
Mr Musk earlier tweeted a poll asking users whether they agreed with the statement: “Taking Twitter private at $54.20 should be up to shareholders, not the board”.
In separate comments, the billionaire Tesla chief executive criticised Twitter’s board, claiming that its interests are no longer aligned with those of shareholders.
He was responding to a tweet which pointed out that the board “collectively owns almost no shares” after the departure of founder Jack Dorsey.
Twitter’s share price was $45.08 before markets opened on Monday, well below Mr Musk’s offer of $54.20 per share.
There remain substantial obstacles to any acquisition, however. The social media platform’s board put in place a one-year “Rights Plan” on Friday, the day after it received “an unsolicited, non-binding” proposal from Mr Musk.
Under the plan, shareholders would be given an opportunity to buy Twitter stock at a discounted price, if Mr Musk increases his holdings to more than 15 per cent of the company.
That would water down Mr Musk’s stake, making a takeover more difficult.
“The Rights Plan is intended to enable all shareholders to realize the full value of their investment in Twitter,” the board said in a statement,
“The Rights Plan will reduce the likelihood that any entity, person or group gains control of Twitter through open market accumulation without paying all shareholders an appropriate control premium or without providing the Board sufficient time to make informed judgments and take actions that are in the best interests of shareholders.”
While Mr Musk’s surprise approach for Twitter has captured the attention of his huge online following, investors have been alarmed by his apparent distraction from running Tesla. Shares in the electric car company have dropped 9.2 per cent in recent days.