Is Elon Musk’s Deal to Buy Twitter Back On? Here’s What We Know.

Is Elon Musk's Deal to Buy Twitter Back On?  Here's What We Know.

The law firms representing Musk and Twitter on deal work and litigation stand to earn hundreds of millions for their months of labor, according to estimates from competitors and colleagues familiar with the matter. The firms declined to comment.

The deal was always likely to be a lawyer’s dream, fee-wise. While Musk’s bid came together relatively quickly this spring, the talks rapidly became mired in lengthy legal wrangling, leading to many billable hours. “There is a lot of discovery to do,” Peter Glennon, a legal expert, told The American Lawyer in August. “We aren’t just looking at emails. We are looking at Slacks, Teams, texts, all of it.” (John Coffee, a Columbia law professor, previously estimated that legal fees could have run to $1 trillion.)

The key players:

  • Musk is represented by Skadden on the deal side and by Skadden and Quinn Emanuel in litigation. Top partners at the firms bill about $2,000 an hour. Lawyers estimated to DealBook that the firms could be charging about $30,000 to $40,000 an hour, or $5 million to $8 million a month. That means Musk could have paid about $50 million, plus perhaps another $50 million in the run-up to litigation.

  • Twitter connected on Wilson Sonsini and Simpson Thacher, where top partners also most likely bill about $2,000 an hour, for deal work. And for litigation it’s primarily relying on Watchtell, the blue-chip firm known in legal circles for its bespoke (and opaque) pricing, including hourly billing, flat fees and contingency deals. Depending on its arrangements, Wachtell could bring in $100 million to $200 million, lawyers estimate.

Between those firms alone, the Twitter case has probably already generated about $150 million to $300 million in fees. But then add in all of the other lawyers involved in litigation, depositions, the deal and more. And that figure could grow if this actually goes to trial, or otherwise goes awry.

Ray Dalio, the outspoken and oddly earnest hedge fund manager whose profile rose after he predicted the 2008 financial crisis, is relinquishing control of Bridgewater Associates, the firm he founded out of his two-bedroom apartment in 1975. In a long planned transition, the co-CEOs, Nir Bar Dea and Mark Bertolini, will run Bridgewater, now the world’s largest hedge fund, with $150 billion in managed assets.

Dalio ushered in the era of enormous hedge funds. By the time Bridgewater started its signature Pure Alpha fund in 1991, most rivals were relatively small, focused on the stock market and managing the money of the ultrarich. Dalio, whose expertise was in currency trading, sought business from pension funds, which had huge piles of money to invest and were looking for exposure outside the stock market.

At Bridgewater, Dalio enforced “radical transparency,” in which employees were encouraged to be brutally honest with one another. To some, Bridgewater’s success made Dalio a management guru. His best-selling 2017 book, “Principles: Life and Work,” lays out the rules for achieving success and radical transparency.

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