Architect of Trump’s social media deal sues to block transaction

By Tom Hals

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) – A former executive of the blank-check acquisition vehicle that plans to take Donald Trump’s social media company public sued to block the deal until he obtained a larger payout, according to a lawsuit docketed Thursday in Delaware.

ARC Global Investments II, which is controlled by Patrick Orlando, said it was being short-changed the amount of stock it should receive in Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC) once it merged with the former president’s Trump Media & Technology Group Corp.

It asked the Delaware’s Court of Chancery to expedite the case to resolve the stake prior to the March 22 vote by DWAC shareholders to approve the deal.

Shares in DWAC were down about 12% in afternoon trade at about $39.57.

Orlando and the legal teams for DWAC and Trump’s company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ARC’s lawsuit follows a warning earlier this month by DWAC that Orlando could delay the deal.

On Tuesday, Trump’s media company and DWAC sued ARC and Orlando in Sarasota, Florida, accusing him of trying to hold up the merger that is expected to close next month and “obtain a windfall by way of extortion.”

The dispute centers on the rate at which ARC’s class B DWAC shares convert to class A shares when the merger closes. Orland’s ARC said it should receive 1.78 class A shares for each class B share. DWAC said the ratio was 1.34. The company said in a regulatory filing the difference between the two ratios was more than 2.5 million shares.

DWAC asked the Florida court to declare that 1.34 was the correct ratio to convert’s ARC’s stock.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission cleared Trump’s company, which operates the Truth Social messaging platform, to complete the merger.

The combined company could be worth $10 billion and the former president’s stake could be worth billions of dollars.

The deal comes as Trump is facing more than $500 million in two separate judgments in New York. His lawyers said on Wednesday he was unable to post a bond for the full amount of a $454 million judgment in a civil fraud case.

DWAC signed its merger agreement with Trump’s company in October 2021 and since then has been the target of investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and reached an $18 million settlement with the SEC over inaccurate disclosures.

The company fired Orlando and shook up its board since signing the merger deal.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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