Jan 30, 2023
Twitter Makes First Interest Payment on Musk Buyout Debt
(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. made its first interest payment on the $12.5 billion in debt that Elon Musk used to take the social media giant private last year.
The company paid a group of seven banks, led by Morgan Stanley, which became stuck with the debt after they were unable to sell it to outside investors.
Representatives for Morgan Stanley and Musk did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The first coupon was expected to cost Twitter roughly $300 million, according to Bloomberg calculations and market participants not involved in the Twitter deal. The payment was due around Jan. 27, about three months after the transaction closed.
A lot is riding on these interest payments. Questions remain about Musk’s ability to turn around the social media giant, though the fact that he’s made good on the first chunk of interest expense stands to bolster confidence in his ability to avert a bankruptcy in the near term.
Since his purchase, Twitter has failed to pay millions of dollars in rent for its San Francisco headquarters and London offices, has been sued by multiple contractors over unpaid services and has auctioned off everything from bird statues to espresso machines to raise money. He’s also openly floated the idea of bankruptcy, cited a “massive drop” in revenue as some advertisers fled from the platform, and slashed staff since closing his $44 billion leveraged buyout at the end of October.
Yet Musk has also said Twitter’s finances are improving. He said in a late December Twitter Spaces conversation that the company has about $1 billion in cash on its balance sheet and is now on track to “roughly” hit cash flow break-even following all the cuts.
Musk is now in the process of overhauling the company. He previously teased turning Twitter into something called “X, the everything app.” He’s also taken an active role in suspending accounts.
Big Debt Bill
While Twitter made its first interest payment, its debt load is still a heavy burden. Annual interest is expected to exceed $1.2 billion, some of which carries floating rates that could continue to increase as the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates.
Twitter paid less than $100 million of annual interest expense before Musk bought the company by loading it up with debt.
The pile includes a $6.5 billion loan that banks originally hoped to sell to institutional investors and $6 billion of bridge loans, split equally between a secured and unsecured tranche, that banks had planned to sell in the form of junk bonds.
Representatives for Bank of America Corp., Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. declined to comment. A representative for Societe Generale SA did not respond to a request for comment. The six banks joined Morgan Stanley in providing the buyout financing.
Banks also provided Twitter a $500 million revolving credit facility, which allows the company to borrow, pay it back and borrow again over the life of the loan. If Twitter draws on it, its interest expense would increase.
--With assistance from Diana Li.
(Updates throughout with more context.)
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