Twitter has sued Elon Musk, seeking to compel him to buy the company for $54.20 a share. Many observers think the company will prevail, or that Mr. Musk is likely at least to pay the $1 billion breakup fee. They’re wrong. He is likely to walk away largely unscathed, a belief reflected in Twitter’s stock price. This case will be a good lesson on the limits of boilerplate merger agreements and the difference between a corporation and its shareholders.
The merger agreement in this case could be read in a way that permits a court to order Mr. Musk to buy Twitter—he and two entities he controls agreed they would “not oppose” such an order—through a remedy known as “specific performance.” Although litigation is always uncertain, it is hard to imagine a court would force the purchase of a $44 billion corporation.