Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, has acquired social media firm Twitter in a $44 billion cash deal.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” said Musk.

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X app and logo, formerly known as Twitter

“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

Twitter stockholders will receive $54.20 in cash for each Twitter share, a 38% premium to Twitter’s closing stock price on 1 April – the last trading day before Musk disclosed his approximately 9% stake in Twitter.

The announcement ends a saga that Musk kicked off when he disclosed his large stake in the company. Soon after, the company said he would join the board, only for Musk to reverse course on that plan several days later. Then, he offered to buy the company.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s interest in Twitter stems from his own frequent use of the platform. Musk often makes business announcements and regularly engages with his 83.6 million followers on Twitter.

Bret Taylor, Twitter’s Independent Board Chair, said: “The Twitter board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty and financing. The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.”

Parag Agrawal, Twitter CEO, said: “Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important.”

Musk has secured $25.5 billion of debt and loan financing and is providing an approximately $21 billion equity commitment.