18 June, 2024
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King sues Elon Musk in battle over unpaid rent


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Britain’s Crown Estate has launched court proceedings against Twitter over alleged unpaid rent on its London headquarters.

Court lists showed the Crown Estate, an independent commercial business that manages the property portfolio belonging to the British monarchy, had filed its case against Twitter at the High Court in London last week.

In a statement on Monday, the Crown Estate, which owns some of the most expensive land in central London, said the action related to “rental arrears” on the social media platform’s office space in the British capital.

The Estate is one of Britain’s largest landowners, generating profit for the government for public spending. The monarch is then given 15 per cent of the annual surplus of the estate, known as the Sovereign Grant, to support official duties

The estate owns more than 900,000 square metres of property in London’s West End, as well as the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, among other properties.

The BBC reports that the British court fight relates to office space near Piccadilly Circus in central London. It has been left deserted and any evidence that Twitter had once occupied the building has been erased.

The social media company laid off half its global workforce of about 7000 after it was taken over by Elon Musk in a $63 billion deal last October.

Mr Musk, who also also owns Tesla and Space X, said Twitter now employed 2300 people.

It is not Mr Musk’s only legal battle over outstanding rents.

The owner of one of Twitter’s San Francisco offices has also launched court action over nearly $200,000 in allegedly unpaid rent, according to Fortune.

Twitters headquarters are at another San Francisco address, where – the New York Times reports – Twitter has also fallen behind on rent.

Most of Mr Musk’s wealth is tied to his ownership of Tesla shares, which lost 65 per cent of their value in 2022 – capped by a 44 per cent plummet in December. Mr Musk has sold billions of dollars Tesla shares as he continues efforts to make Twitter profitable.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the 51-year-old entrepreneur had endured an unprecedented $US200 billion ($294 billion) loss in wealth since November 2021, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Twitter did not immediately respond for a request for comment on the British court action.

Elon Musk takes the stand

Elsewhere, Mr Musk was in court on Tuesday (Australian time) in a trial over claims he defrauded investors in a tweet.

Mr Must testified that he was sure he had backing from Saudi financiers in 2018 to take Tesla Inc private, but said the fund later back-pedalled on its commitment.

At the trial in San Francisco federal court, Mr Musk told the investors’ lawyer Nicholas Porritt that on July 31, 2018, he met representatives of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory.

Mr Musk acknowledged he did not discuss a takeover price with representatives of the Saudi fund, but said they made clear they would do what it took to make a buyout happen.

“PIF unequivocally wanted to take Tesla private,” he testified on Monday.

Mr Musk subsequently said that Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the fund, later back-pedalled on the commitment to take Tesla private.

“I was very upset because he had been unequivocal in his support for taking Tesla private when we met and now he appeared to be back-pedalling,” Mr Musk testified.

The lawyer for the investors told the court that written evidence did not support Mr Musk’s claim that the Saudi fund made a commitment to him, adding that minutes of a meeting between Mr Musk and the Saudis showed the Saudis wanted to learn more about Mr Musk’s plan.

Mr Musk is defending against claims that he defrauded investors when the billionaire tweeted on August 7, 2018, that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $US420 per share, and that “investor support is confirmed”.

Investors say they lost millions as a result of Mr Musk’s tweets.

-with AAP

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