Exclusive: Twitter co-founder says not in stake sale talks

Reuters

SEOUL (Reuters) - Biz Stone, the co-founder of popular microblogging site Twitter, denied a report that the firm was in talks to sell a $450 million stake of the company to a JPMorgan fund, reiterating that it was committed to remaining independent.

A JPMorgan fund is in talks to acquire 10 percent of Twitter for $450 million, valuing the firm, which has 350 employees, at $4.5 billion, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

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"(The report is) made up," Stone told Reuters in Seoul on the sidelines of a forum organized by broadcaster MBN.

Twitter, which allows users to send short, 140-character text messages, or Tweets, to groups of so-called followers, is one of the Web's most popular social networking services, along with Facebook and LinkedIn.

Google and Facebook have held low-level takeover talks with Twitter that give the Internet sensation a value as high as $10 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Stone said Twitter sought to remain independent and was not in formal bid talks.

The firm had talks with Facebook "a couple of years ago ... (but) nothing formal since and it's mostly rumors all the time," he said.

(Reporting by Miyoung Kim and Ju-min Park; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)