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Elon Musk asks to delay start of Twitter court battle

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Tesla chief Elon Musk asked a Delaware court on Friday to reject a bid by Twitter to put their USD44 billion merger lawsuit on trial in September, instead asking to push it back until next year.

In a court document cited by United States (US) media, Musk’s lawyers accuse Twitter’s board of directors of wanting to expedite the case. Twitter on Tuesday sued Musk for breaching the contract he signed to buy the tech firm, calling his exit strategy “a model of hypocrisy”.

The suit filed in the US state of Delaware urges the court to order the billionaire to complete his deal to buy Twitter, arguing that no financial penalty could repair the damage he has caused.

The social media giant wants to hold the trial in September so as not to prolong the period of uncertainty currently threatening the company.

But Musk asked that the trial not start before February 13, citing the complexities involved.

The billionaire had agreed to buy Twitter at the end of April. But after weeks of threats, Musk last week tried to pull the plug on the deal, accusing Twitter of “misleading” statements about the number of fake accounts.

That set the stage for a potentially lengthy court battle with Twitter, which has defended its fake account oversight and vowed to force Musk to complete the deal, which contained a USD1 -billion breakup fee. The social network said the number of fake accounts is less than five per cent, a figure challenged by Musk, who said he believes the percentage is much higher. His lawyers said proving that will require analysing mountains of data.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in a business law court in Delaware.

The Twitter splash page is seen on a digital device. PHOTO: AP