The window in which regulators could object to Elon Musk's planned $44 billion takeover of Twitter has now ended, according to the company, removing one hurdle from the long path between now and the transaction's eventual scheduled closing later this year.
Thanks to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act of 1976, companies planning a merger or acquisition above a certain threshold — $101 million, for 2022 — must file their plans with the Federal Trade Commission before doing the deal. That kicks off a 30-day waiting period when regulators can do one of three things: They can grant early termination, meaning they have no issues with the transaction; they can file a second request for information, kicking off an actual probe; or they can do nothing at all, and simply let the waiting period expire.
That last one is what the FTC did, Twitter said in a press release. The waiting period closed without fanfare at midnight, ending the opportunity for regulators to throw themselves on top of the deal with a slow-motion, "Nooooooooo." That said, realistically there was very little chance that they actually would: HSR and other antitrust laws exist to preserve competition between businesses in a sector. There's not much template for individuals purchasing $44 billion companies on their own, because that's not historically a thing that happens.
Although competition regulators have declined to intervene, the road to closing is still filled with metaphorical potholes. Chief among those is Musk himself, who, in addition to facing multiple lawsuits from Twitter shareholders, recently appeared to be trying to find a way either to reduce his offer price for Twitter or potentially even wriggle out of the deal entirely. The Securities and Exchange Commission also has some questions for Musk about how he acquired his existing Twitter shares.
Musk's influence over Twitter already runs deep, though, and the company has seen turnover in response. Twitter itself also plans to hold Musk to the deal: The company recently asked its shareholders to vote in favor of the transaction at an as-yet unscheduled special meeting.