The King of England is also the landlord of the second-richest man in the world. And, it appears, he is not very happy with his tenant. The Crown Estate, the legal entity that manages the properties belonging to Charles III, has sued Twitter, the social network owned by tycoon Elon Musk, for failing to pay the rent on its London headquarters. The Crown Estate filed a lawsuit against Twitter last week in the High Court in London. As reported by the BBC, the alleged non-payment of rent by Musk’s company relates to an office building near Piccadilly Circus in downtown London.
According to The Guardian, the Crown Estate has confirmed that the judicial action is related to rental arrears at the office space occupied by Twitter in London. Several other sources including The New York Times have stated that Twitter has failed to pay rent on its San Francisco headquarters and other worldwide offices for several weeks in an attempt to cut costs. The owner of Twitter’s base in San Francisco has also launched legal action against the social network. Twitter employees in Singapore were temporarily evicted from the company’s offices there due to rental arrears, until Musk eventually paid what was owed, according to Business Insider.
Since Musk too control of Twitter for $44 billion last October, he has been attempting to stem the company’s losses with drastic measures, including laying off over half of the workforce and introducing charges for services on the platform that were previously free, such as the disastrous implementation of the blue tick for verified users. These measures have only been half successful as Musk’s erratic management and the rise of hate speech on the network have caused advertising revenues to plummet. The last public accounts available for Twitter are from 2021 and Moody’s has withdrawn the company’s rating due to a lack of information on the state of the business. The recent decision to stop paying rent on its worldwide offices, though, offers a clue.
We have today announced the signing of Agreements for Lease for six #OffshoreWind projects for Leasing Round 4 - a major milestone that could see c.8GW of #GreenElectricity generated by the end of the decade, enough to power more than 7 million homes. https://t.co/GTCu73pjqN pic.twitter.com/O7kugEWkYP— The Crown Estate (@TheCrownEstate) January 19, 2023
The British royal family is one of the biggest landowners in the UK. The portfolio managed by the Crown Estate includes properties valued at over $19 billion, of which 241 are located in downtown London, as well as Royal Ascot racecourse, farms, forests and coastlines that make up 1.4% of the UK’s total landmass. Although it is controlled by the monarch, the Crown Estate is not a privately owned company but an independent commercial business whose income is directed to public spending. The monarch receives 15% of the estate’s annual surplus, which is known as the Sovereign Grant, to fund official royal duties.
Although the Crown Estate is pursuing Twitter for rental arrears, Charles III is not a typical landlord. As reported by The Guardian last week, Charles has directed the Crown Estate to use profits from lease agreements on six offshore wind energy production plants, valued at around $1.2 billion annually, to be used for the “wider public good” rather than added to the Sovereign Grant.
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