Florida pension leader praises Musk’s Twitter bid, criticizes poison pill

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FILE PHOTO: Twitter app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration

By Ross Kerber

(Reuters) – A Florida official praised Elon Musk’s offer to buy Twitter Inc and said pension officials will tell the company its efforts to fend off the bid could hurt shareholder value.

“We’re definitely very concerned about them leaving offers on the table,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis in a telephone interview late on Wednesday afternoon.

A poison pill the company adopted last week in response to Musk’s interest “hurts our state’s equity position in Twitter, and I’m not happy,” Patronis said.

Patronis is one of three elected officials who are trustees of the State Board of Administration (SBA), with some $250 billion in retirement assets. It will vote 808,093 Twitter shares at next month’s annual meeting, about the 70th largest investor.

Twitter representatives did not immediately respond to questions.

While the stake would only be decisive in a close contest, Patronis’ comments show how politics has shaped the discussion around who controls the social media platform.

Musk, chief executive officer of carmaker Tesla Inc, has described his interest in Twitter as an extension of his concerns for free speech.

Republicans including Patronis have criticized Twitter for steps like banning the account of former U.S. President Donald Trump due to the risk of further incitement of violence after the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, another pension trustee, on Tuesday also made comments https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-04-19/desantis-says-florida-could-act-over-twitter-s-musk-rebuffal critical of Twitter’s board. Patronis said he, DeSantis, and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, the third trustee, have not yet decided how to vote on Twitter directors.

But they have told Lamar Taylor, the SBA’s interim executive director, to express their concerns to Twitter’s leadership. Taylor’s mission, Patronis said, was to “go and put these guys on notice, we’re sitting trigger finger itchy to make something happen.”

Patronis called himself a “rabid Elon Musk fan” but said he would welcome higher bids. “If some equity group wants to come and buy the whole thing out, more power to them,” he said.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Chris Reese)

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