FirstFT: Musk puts Twitter deal ‘on hold’

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Elon Musk tweeted this morning that he is putting his $44bn takeover of Twitter “temporarily on hold” pending details supporting the calculation that spam and fake accounts represented fewer than 5 per cent of users.

After the tweet appeared on the billionaire’s Twitter page shares in the social media company fell nearly 20 per cent to $37.10 in pre-market trading as investors worried the deal to take the company private would collapse.

Musk offered $54.20 per share for the company last month but the shares have failed to reach that level, suggesting investors remain sceptical that the deal will get done.

Twitter, which has yet to respond to the development, yesterday announced an immediate hiring freeze, cost-cutting measures and the departure of two of its senior leaders as it prepared for the takeover by the Tesla chief executive.

This is a developing story. For updates go to FT.com.

Thanks for reading. FirstFT US will be back in your inbox on Monday morning. For now, here’s the rest of the day’s news — Gordon

Crypto industry shaken as Tether’s dollar peg snaps The $1.3tn cryptocurrency industry was shaken yesterday after the biggest operator in the so-called stablecoin market failed to maintain its link with the dollar, leading to a warning of the growing threat to the broader financial sector.

1. Jay Powell warns that taming US inflation will cause ‘some pain’ The Federal Reserve chair yesterday warned that bringing inflation down to the US central bank’s target of 2 per cent will cause “some pain”, in his most bearish comments to date. He reiterated the Fed’s commitment to bringing down inflation and underscored the challenge of doing so without triggering job losses and a possible recession.

2. US to increase baby formula imports to tackle national shortage The White House announced officials were working on ways to remove barriers to increase imports of baby formula as families report not being able to feed their children. Republicans have been criticising the Biden administration for days, saying it is not doing enough to alleviate the supply shortage.

3. North Korea reports first Covid-19 death A day after the isolated country confirmed the presence of coronavirus within its borders for the first time, it said today that six people have now died from the disease and 350,000 have received treatment. State news agency KCNA reported that 18,000 people had been identified as having symptoms and 187,800 were in quarantine.

5. The supermassive black hole at centre of Milky Way Astronomers have unveiled the first images of the closest black hole to Earth, located at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, from which they hope to glean new information about the mysterious celestial bodies.

This image of the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* is the product of pooling data from a global network of eight radio observatories © EHT Collaboration

The days ahead

Economic data The University of Michigan will release the results of its consumer sentiment index for May. Pessimism has become more pronounced in recent months, with the index largely trending downward since July 2021. Separately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release imports and export prices for April which are expected to increase slightly compared with March.

Monetary policy Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, will speak about energy prices and their effect on inflation. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will host a symposium on climate change and macroeconomics.

Earnings: Biotech company EQRX will report before the market opens, along with video game maker Gravity and The Honest Company, a consumer goods business founded by Jessica Alba.

Outlook for markets Global stocks were on track for their sixth straight week of falls despite expected gains for US equities when Wall Street opens later. Investors have been shaken in recent sessions by the speed of planned increases in US interest rates by the Federal Reserve and an economic slowdown in China.

Swedish parliament debates joining Nato The ruling Social Democrats will make a decision on Sunday whether to join Nato. A formal application is expected next week.

Sign-up to the Week Ahead newsletter for a guide to what’s coming up. Sent every Sunday, it previews the economic, political and corporate agenda around the world.

What else we’re reading

William Burns on the new world disorder Fifty years after Nixon’s cold war coup, the US is facing a new global realignment, according to the head of the CIA. Edward Luce, who interviewed Burns at the FTWeekend Festival, writes on the foreign policy challenges for the US for the Weekend magazine.

Reasons why the tech stock crash may be far from over West Coast editor Richard Waters says there are reasons to suggest there is more pain to come for investors in technology companies. He says if you value the sector on multiples of revenue, a favourite gauge used by growth investors, there is ample room for further declines.

Can Ukraine push out the Russian army? Some former Ukrainian officials believe the country’s army could force Russian troops to leave before the end of the year, including from the eastern Donbas region. “If we have everything we needed by June, we could get them out by October,” said Andriy Zagorodnyuk, a former defence minister.

Dublin can no longer treat Irish unity as a distant aspiration With a new generation in Ireland squeezed by inflation and an acute housing shortage, the days when Sinn Féin represented the ballot box placed alongside the IRA’s Armalite are ancient history. But to be clear, Philip Stephens writes, Irish unity is not suddenly around the corner.

Space station shows adversaries can — and should — collaborate The International Space Station is the world’s most expensive and successful infrastructure project. This, says Sinead O’Sullivan of Harvard Business School, is a landmark example of the strategic deployment of “co-opetition” — collaborating with competitors to achieve goals you could not reach alone.

Frieze New York 2022

As the art fair prepares to return to The Shed in Manhattan, we speak to this year’s festival director Christine Messineo who has designed a more intimate experience for participants.

Frieze New York at The Shed in 2021 © Casey Kelbaugh/Frieze

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