Avlon: This is how Elon Musk can fix Twitter

Morgan Stanley, Elon Musk’s preferred banker, wins big in Twitter deal


Morgan Stanley (MS) advised the Tesla (TSLA) CEO on his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter (TWTR). The bank also helped secure $25.5 billion in funding for the deal, including $12.5 billion in loans that use Musk’s Tesla stock as collateral. That should lead to lucrative fees and interest income for Morgan Stanley.

Investment banks usually get about a 1% to 3% cut of the value of a merger deal, which is split among all the banks involved. Based on the $44 billion purchase price, that works out to a range of $440 million to $1.3 billion.

So Morgan Stanley could be looking at taking in tens — or even hundreds — of millions of dollars from advising Musk, plus the Wall Street bragging rights.

Morgan Stanley is one of the world’s preeminent financial firms. According to so-called league tables tracked by the Financial Times, the bank raked in the second-largest amount of fees from investment banking in the first quarter. Its $852 million in fees so far this year trailed only Goldman Sachs, and was up 87% from the first quarter of 2021.Morgan Stanley said in its first-quarter earnings report that advisory revenue for mergers nearly doubled from a year ago. But overall investment banking revenue was held back by a slowdown in initial public offerings and corporate bond sales during a rocky first three months for the broader market.Much of Elon Musk's Twitter deal is still a mystery

The bank had no comment about the company’s work for Musk or Tesla.

But it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that Musk is working with Morgan Stanley. After all, he has a more than decade’s long relationship with the company. And the bank was one of four underwriters for Tesla’s 2010 IPO, along with Goldman Sachs (GS), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Deutsche Bank (DB).

Morgan Stanley’s auto analyst, Adam Jonas, is one of the biggest Tesla bulls on Wall Street. Jonas currently has a “buy” rating on Tesla stock and a $1,300 price target, 30% above the current stock price of roughly $1,000 a share.

Jonas has also recently written positive reports about the prospects for two of Musk’s multi-billion dollar privately held companies, SpaceX and The Boring Company. Jonas even suggested in 2017 that Tesla and SpaceX should merge, and more recently predicted that SpaceX could eventually help make Musk a trillionaire.So even if Musk’s takeover of Twitter doesn’t turn the company into a social media juggernaut that can challenge the likes of Facebook and Instagram owner Meta Platforms (FB), Snapchat (SNAP) or TikTok, Morgan Stanley could still benefit.

Anything the investment bank does moving forward to stay in Musk’s good graces could be beneficial, especially if the world’s wealthiest person seeks advice on more mergers for Tesla, an IPO for SpaceX or The Boring Company or whatever other whim requiring him to raise more cash strikes his fancy.

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