Twitter Will Keep An Elon Musk Ally On Its Board—Even Though Shareholders Rejected Him
Twitter will let Egon Durban, the co-CEO of Silver Lake, keep his board seat even though shareholders turned down his reelection at the company’s annual meeting. His time on the board pre-dates Elon Musk’s arrival, dating back to an earlier entanglement with another unsolicited investor. But, in the past, Durban has been a close Musk confidant, and the company’s decision to keep him is a reminder of the complex machinations—and personalities—involved in the highly public fights over Twitter’s future during the last several years.
Twitter believes Durban lost the election because of a shareholder advisory firm’s recommendation against him, not because of his relationship with Musk, the company says in a new SEC filing. That firm, ISS, recommended Twitter shareholders reject him in the meeting on Wednesday because Durban’s got a lot going on. Six corporate boards are his total. In a new agreement with Twitter, he promises to cut back on those demands for his time—by leaving…one of the other boards and vows not to serve on more than five boards in the future.
The filing also makes it seem like Twitter worried Durban’s departure might violate its agreement with Elliott Management, the activist-investing firm that bought a stake in Twitter 2020. Perhaps it will irritate Elliott Management, an ex-adverse party that Twitter tried to reconcile. To end the campaign against Jack Dorsey and Twitter, it struck an extensive deal with Elliott. One of the provisions was that Elliott received several seats on boards, including one to Durban/Silver Lake.
“The Board considers Mr. Durban a highly effective member and believes that he brings to the Board an unparalleled operational knowledge of the industry, a unique perspective, and an invaluable skill set and experience with mergers and acquisitions,” Twitter says in a new SEC filing. Durban’s Silver Lake is a massive tech-focused private equity firm with nearly $90 billion in assets under management. It has done things like help fund Michael Dell’s 2013 leveraged buyout of his PC company—as well as counsel Musk around his plans to privatize Tesla in 2018, the concreteness of which remains an unanswered question. Musk now suggests that he might buy Twitter for as high as $44 billion.
Here’s Twitter continuing to give Durban high marks on his report card: “The Board noted that Mr. Durban has strengthened its ability to oversee the Company’s long-term value creation strategy and effectively govern its implementation. Further, Mr. Durban is consistently well-prepared, engaged and a meaningful contributor to Board meetings and discussions.”