Trump’s social media company to go public after merger approved

Shareholders of Digital World Acquisition Corp, a publicly traded shell company, have voted to approve a deal to merge with the former US president’s media business.

That means Trump Media & Technology Group, whose flagship product is social networking site Truth Social, will soon begin trading on the Nasdaq stock market.

Mr Trump could receive a sizeable payout in the process. He would own most of the combined company – or nearly 79 million shares. Multiplied by Digital World’s closing stock price on Thursday of 42.81 dollars (£33.62), and the total value of Mr Trump’s stake could surpass three billion dollars (£2.35 billion).

The shares did fall 5% after the merger approval was announced.

Donald Trump
Mr Trump is seeking to return to the White House (AP)

The deal’s approval arrives at a time the presumptive Republican US presidential nominee is facing his most costly legal battle to date: a 454 million dollar (£356 million) judgment in a fraud lawsuit.

But Mr Trump will not be able to cash out the windfall immediately, unless some things change, due to a “lock-up” provision that prevents company insiders from selling newly issued shares for six months.

Mr Trump’s presidential campaign did not immediately respond to request for comment.

His earlier foray into the stock market did not end well. Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts went public in 1995 under the symbol DJT – the same symbol Trump Media will trade under. By 2004, Mr Trump’s casino company had filed for bankruptcy protection and was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

Ahead of the merger’s approval, Digital World’s regulatory filings listed many of the risks its investors face, as well as those of the Truth Social owner once Trump Media also goes public.

One risk, the company said, is that Mr Trump would be entitled to vote in his own interest as a controlling stockholder – which may not always be in the interests of all shareholders.

Digital World also cited the high rate of failure for new social media platforms, as well as Trump Media’s expectation that it would lose money on its operations “for the foreseeable future”.

Donald Trump
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee looks set for a rematch with Joe Biden in the autumn (AP)

Trump Media lost 49 million dollars (£38.4 million) in the first nine months of last year, when it brought in just 3.4 million dollars (£2.67 million) in revenue and had to pay 37.7 million dollars (£29.6 million) in interest expenses.

Trump Media and Digital World first announced their merger plans in October 2021. In addition to a federal probe, the deal has faced a series of lawsuits leading up to Friday’s vote.

Truth Social launched in February 2022, one year after Mr Trump was banned from major social platforms including Facebook and Twitter, the platform now known as X, following the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

He has since been reinstated to both but has stuck with Truth Social as a megaphone for his message.

Trump promoted Truth Social in a post on the social media network Thursday evening, saying: “TRUTH SOCIAL IS MY VOICE, AND THE REAL VOICE OF AMERICA!!! MAGA2024!!!”

Trump Media has not so far disclosed Truth Social’s user numbers. But research firm Similarweb estimates that it had roughly five million active mobile and web users in February.

That is far below TikTok’s more than two billion and Facebook’s three billion – but still higher than rivals like Parler, which has been offline for nearly a year but is planning a comeback, or Gettr, which had less than two million visitors in February.

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