Takeover rumors about Twitter surface with seeming regularity every couple of months. But one on Tuesday showed a new level of sophistication in an effort to pump up the company’s stock.
Shares of Twitter, the social network, briefly spiked after an article that appeared to come from the Bloomberg News website contended that the company had received a takeover offer worth $31 billion. Analysts and Twitter users quickly started poking holes in the online piece and deemed it a fake. (No such report ran on the Bloomberg terminal, where its official news reports first appear.)
False takeover rumors meant to prompt a quick, temporary increase in the stock price of the company mentioned as a target have been circulated many times before, with some success. Two months ago, Avon Products fell prey to a phantom buyout bid by an unknown entity trying to pass itself off as a well-known private equity firm.
Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged a Bulgarian man with abusing the agency’s online database for company filings to submit the false takeover bid for Avon and for Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
And last year, shares in G4S, the British security services company, plunged after a fake statement claiming that the business had unearthed accounting problems. Such efforts try to force a short-term move in the stock, enough for the perpetrator to collect a tidy profit through well-timed stock purchases or sales.
The fake Bloomberg report about Twitter possessed a level of technical sophistication rarely seen in such ruses. The article page closely resembled a standard Bloomberg report, with many of the links going to real parts of the news organization’s website.
That was enough to send Twitter’s shares as high as $38.56, up 7 percent from their closing price on Monday.
Adapted from nytimes.com