Elon Musk goes after Twitter acquisition lawyers

Musk sues law firm Wachtell Lipton over $90mn Twitter legal fee

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  • Elon Musk’s X Corp has filed a lawsuit against law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz over a $90 million fee charged during Twitter’s acquisition.
  • Musk claims the law firm amended its fee arrangement to gain an “improper bonus payment” and took advantage of a vulnerable corporate client.
  • The fee was paid during a time of tumult when Musk was initially reluctant to close the Twitter deal, leading to a lawsuit from Twitter.

Silicon Valley’s famed pioneer Elon Musk is taking on Wall Street’s elite in a groundbreaking lawsuit that encapsulates a blend of tech, finance, and legal drama.

Musk’s entity, X Corp, which now owns Twitter, is squaring off against one of Wall Street’s most prestigious law firms, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, in a battle over a staggering $90 million fee paid by Twitter.

This legal encounter, involving such prominent figures, could mark a turning point in the dealings between corporate legal teams and their high-profile clients, adding another chapter to Musk’s history of audacious business maneuvers.

Musk and the specter of a $90 million fee

At the heart of the suit is Musk’s claim that the Wall Street firm took advantage of its professional status, amending its fee structure to extract an “improper bonus payment” as Musk was finalizing his takeover of the social media giant.

According to the complaint, the $90 million, constituting 10% of Wachtell Lipton’s 2022 gross revenue, was transferred hours before the completion of Musk’s acquisition.

The bone of contention is the allegedly vague “success fee,” which, Musk asserts, constituted an “enormous” portion of the sum. He accuses the law firm of manipulating Twitter’s former board members, who, he alleges, failed to act in the best interest of the company during its transition phase.

This legal kerfuffle has its origins in a series of events that unfolded last year. Musk had initially agreed to acquire Twitter in April 2022 but attempted to retract his decision as tech stocks plummeted.

He accused Twitter of misleading investors and regulatory bodies concerning fake accounts and cybersecurity issues.

In response, Twitter, represented by Wachtell Lipton’s eminent litigation team, filed a lawsuit to compel Musk to finalize the deal. This ignited a contentious legal tussle and discovery process, which ended when Musk conceded he would complete the acquisition, provided Twitter dropped its lawsuit.

Bringing the past to light: Financials, fiduciary duties, and alleged misconduct

X Corp’s legal team asserts in the complaint that Wachtell Lipton presented Twitter with invoices detailing “millions of dollars in hourly billings by Wachtell partners with completely blank time entry descriptions” during the initial months of their engagement.

This unexpected billing resulted in a board member expressing shock and disbelief at the invoice.

The decision to approve the legal fees was made in spite of Musk’s insistence on suspending all outbound payments to third parties ahead of the impending merger. This has led Musk to level accusations of breach of fiduciary duty against both the law firm and Twitter’s former board members.

In this legal face-off, Musk is not just seeking restitution. The tech tycoon is attempting to call out the practices of an established Wall Street law firm, challenging traditional transactional norms and once again stirring the pot in his unique, confrontational style.

As the world watches, the outcome of this case could set new standards for corporate legal engagements, with Musk at the helm of yet another disruption.

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Jai Hamid

Jai Hamid is a passionate writer with a keen interest in blockchain technology, the global economy, and literature. She dedicates most of her time to exploring the transformative potential of crypto and the dynamics of worldwide economic trends.

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