Investors will receive $54.20 for each Twitter share they own, the company said in a statement Monday. The price is 38% more than the stock’s close on April 1

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk agreed to buy Twitter Inc. for $44 billion, using one of the biggest leveraged buyout deals in history

to take a 16-year-old social networking site, which has become a hotbed of public discussion and a flashpoint in the argument over internet free expression, private.

Musk, one of Twitter’s most prolific users with more than 83 million followers, began amassing a stake of about 9% in January.

By March, he had ramped up his criticism of Twitter, alleging that the company’s algorithms are biased and feeds cluttered with automated junk posts.

He also suggested Twitter’s user growth was inflated by bots. After rejecting an invitation to join the company’s board

Elon Musk, a self-described "free speech absolutist", has been critical of Twitter's policies.

He believes that in order for Twitter to thrive and become a true venue for free speech, it has to be turned private.

The deal ends Twitter's run as a public company since its 2013

Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," Musk said in the statement on Monday.

Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it."

Twitter's shares were up about 6%  The 50-year-old entrepreneur, who is also CEO of rocket developer SpaceX, has said he wants to combat trolls

on Twitter and suggested improvements to the Twitter Blue premium subscription service, including a price reduction and the removal of advertising.