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FirstFT: Elon Musk closes $44bn deal to buy Twitter

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Elon Musk has closed his $44bn deal to take Twitter private, according to three people familiar with the matter, bringing an end to one of the most high-profile and dramatic buyout sagas in recent memory.

Twitter’s chief executive, Parag Agrawal, and chief financial officer Ned Segal are no longer with the company, two of the people said, as the world’s richest man now takes the reins. Musk also fired Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal, policy and safety, as well as general counsel Sean Edgett, one person said.

Shares of the company will be suspended from trading on the New York Stock Exchange today.

The acquisition comes after months of legal wrangling and puts Musk, a self-described “free-speech absolutist”, at the helm of a platform that is popular among global politicians and relied on by millions of users around the world for news.

Musk has promised to cut jobs and costs at Twitter, while boosting product innovation in an attempt to build a “super app” that incorporates payments, commerce and messaging.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Here’s the rest of the news — Gary

1. Amazon stock sinks on weak holiday sales forecast The ecommerce giant warns consumer spending is in “uncharted waters” after issuing revenue forecasts well below Wall Street expectations. Shares fell as much as 20 per cent in after-hours trading yesterday, deepening the sense of gloom hanging over the tech sector.

2. British business and universities demand R&D be spared cuts As the government prepares its debt reduction plan, UK universities and business leaders have called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to invest £20bn annually in research and development. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has warned of “difficult decisions” ahead of next month’s Autumn Statement.

3. Marks and Spencer bets on property shake-up The retail chain says its costly plan to modernise stores by 2028 is starting to pay off. The more than £1bn shake-up is a key plank in its turnround strategy as it adapts to the digital world and grapples with rising costs and a challenging economic backdrop.

Since 2016, M&S has racked up more than £800mn of exceptional charges related to UK store restructuring © Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

4. Lebanon and Israel agree maritime deal The landmark agreement resolves a long-simmering dispute over the countries’ maritime borders, but there was no joint public signing ceremony, a stark reminder of the two sides’ bellicose history and legacy of conflict. The awkward choreography ensured that the leaders did not meet, as Israel and Lebanon have never held diplomatic ties.

5. Russia rejects claims of intent to use nuclear weapons President Vladimir Putin has countered western warnings that Moscow might be planning to detonate a “dirty bomb” in Ukraine in a false flag operation, saying he saw “no point” in a nuclear strike. The remarks were made an international relations forum yesterday, in which he seemed to take a more conciliatory tone than in prior months.

How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.

The days ahead

Earnings Airbus, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Glencore, NatWest, Swiss Re and Volkswagen report third-quarter results today. See the full list here.

Economic data France, Germany and Spain release preliminary GDP figures for the third quarter today. The EU has the results of its business and consumer confidence surveys for October, and Italy publishes flash inflation data for the same month. Germany also releases its consumer price index for October.

Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris, secretary of state for Northern Ireland, is expected to call an Assembly election today if power-sharing is not restored to the devolved government.

Brazil presidential election The run-off contest between Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva takes place on Sunday. In this FT Film, Brazil bureau chief Bryan Harris travels the nation to look at the enormous economic and social challenges facing the next president.

Events and holidays Municipal and regional elections will be held in Slovakia tomorrow. Today is Independence Day in the Czech Republic, while Sunday is the annual day of remembrance for the victims of Stalin’s purges in Russia.

European Daylight Saving Time Ends on Sunday. Be sure to turn your clocks back one hour.

What else we’re reading and listening to

Hijab re-emerges as flashpoint in Iran More than a month of protests in the country has made the issue of women’s clothing a flashpoint in demands for radical change. The demonstrations underscore how quickly the Islamic republic’s long-held values, which give women little or no choice but to cover up in public, have come under pressure.

Will Credit Suisse’s ‘radical surgery’ pay off? For over a century, Credit Suisse steadily grew to become an international bank offering wealth management and investment banking on a global scale. Yesterday, it unveiled a radical new strategy aimed at arresting years of losses. The question now is whether the restructuring will work.

Bar chart showing Credit Suisse’s planned restructuring charges and impairments

‘The flood of green finance must be diverted from the west’ Developing countries feel increasingly angry about the lack of support from wealthier nations in tackling climate change, writes Gillian Tett. If the west wants to counter this, it needs to rapidly unclog the blended finance pipeline in what could be the single most sensible way to help.

Xi blindsides investors with no ‘adults in the room’ When China’s president Xi Jinping moved to tighten his grip on power last weekend, analysts expected him to include at least a couple of moderates in his leadership team. The absence of even one such figure, combined with the late release of disappointing economic data, sparked record selling of Chinese stocks by foreign investors.

Economic problems mount: On the latest episode of the Rachman Review podcast, Gideon talks to economist Linda Yueh of Oxford university about what the growing centralisation of power in China tells us about how Xi will handle the private sector, a property crisis and international tensions over Taiwan.

Opinion: The great decoupling with China will reshape markets, writes Diana Choyleva.

Biden keeps low profile on midterms campaign trail The stakes are high for the US president. If Republicans win full control of Congress, the rest of his term in office will be consumed by congressional investigations and legislative stand-offs, with little chance to enact the rest of his agenda. The outcome could shape whether Biden follows through on his intention to run for a second term in 2024.

Gadgets

Is it worth the upgrade? Here’s everything you need to know about the new iPhone 14 and how to make the most of its new functions.

Apple’s iPhone 14
© Brittany Hosea-Small/AFP/Getty Images

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