Tesla chief Musk proposed buying the remaining shares of Twitter that he doesn’t already own at $54.20 per share, weeks after becoming the platform’s largest shareholder.

Musk has continued to criticise Twitter over his belief that the company falls short on free speech principles.
Musk has continued to criticise Twitter over his belief that the company falls short on free speech principles. (AP)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has offered to buy Twitter, saying the social media platform he has criticised for not living up to free speech principles needs to be transformed as a private company.

Twitter Inc. said in a regulatory filing on Thursday that Musk, currently the company’s biggest shareholder, has proposed buying the remaining shares of Twitter that he doesn’t already own at $54.20 per share, an offer worth more than $43 billion.

Musk called that price his best and final offer, although he provided no details on financing. The offer is non-binding and subject to financing and other conditions.

“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,” Musk said in the filing. 

“However, since making my investment I now realise the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”

Twitter said it has received Musk's offer and will decide whether it is in the best interests of shareholders to accept or continue to operate as a publicly traded company.

READ MORE: Elon Musk hit with a lawsuit over his Twitter investment

‘Largest shareholder for free speech’

Musk revealed in regulatory filings over recent weeks that he had been buying shares in almost daily batches starting January 31, ending up with a stake of about 9 percent. Only Vanguard Group’s suite of mutual funds and ETFs controls more Twitter shares.

The billionaire has been a vocal critic of Twitter in recent weeks, mostly over his belief that it falls short on free speech principles.

The social media platform has angered followers of Donald Trump and other far-right political figures who’ve had their accounts suspended for violating its content standards on violence, hate or harmful misinformation. Musk also has a history of his own tweets causing legal problems.

After Musk announced his stake, Twitter quickly offered him a seat on its board on the condition that he not own more than 14.9 percent of the company’s outstanding stock, according to a filing. But he said five days later that he’d declined.

He didn’t explain why, but the decision coincided with a barrage of now-deleted tweets from Musk proposing major changes to the company, such as dropping ads - its chief source of revenue - and transforming its San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter. 

Musk left a few clues on Twitter about his thinking, such as by “liking” a tweet that summarised the events as Musk going from “largest shareholder for Free Speech” to being “told to play nice and not speak freely.”

Musk’s prolific tweeting has sometimes gotten him into trouble with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and others. His latest trouble with the SEC could be his delay in notifying regulators of his growing stake in Twitter.

READ MORE: Elon Musk no longer joining Twitter board 'for the best'

Source: AP