Twitter sued over unpaid rent for London and San Francisco HQs

Twitter is being sued by the U.K.’s Crown Estate after the company allegedly failed to pay rent for its London headquarters. The social-media company, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, has already been sued for US$136,260 in overdue rent from its headquarters in downtown San Francisco.

According to the BBC, the Estate — which oversees numerous properties owned by King Charles III — filed a legal claim in the High Court in London last week. The office space is located on Air Street, near Piccadilly Circus, in central London.

Twitter and Musk have not commented publicly on either lawsuit.

It is not yet known how much Twitter owes the Crown Estate in overdue rent. CNN reported that discussion between Twitter and the Estate is ongoing.

The Estate is one of the U.K.’s largest landowners with a property portfolio worth approximately £15.6 billion across 241 locations in London, as per the court filing. The Estate generates profits for governmental public spending and provides a 15 per cent annual surplus to the king to be used for official duties.

Musk, 51, bought Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022. The social-media company is on the hook for about $1 billion a year in interest payments from the deal.

Most of Musk’s wealth is tied to his ownership of Tesla shares, which have lost more than half of their value since he took ownership of Twitter. He has sold nearly $23 billion worth of the electric vehicle company’s stock to fund the purchase since April, when he started building a position in Twitter. He’s even lost the top spot for the world’s wealthiest person, according to Forbes.

After acquiring Twitter, Musk cut the company’s workforce of 7,000 people in half, though some three-quarters of Twitter’s employee base are estimated to have left the company, because they were either laid off, fired or quit.

In November, the New York Times reported that Musk stopped paying rent on all Twitter offices globally. The outlet also claimed Musk told employees to stop paying company vendors.

Musk defended his extreme cost-cutting measures in December. During a late-night Twitter Spaces call, Musk described Twitter as “a plane that is headed towards the ground at high speed with the engines on fire and the controls don’t work.”

In addition to not paying rent and laying off workers, Musk’s Twitter is also auctioning off company memorabilia and high-end office furniture and kitchen equipment.

With files from The Associated Press 

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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