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Is the Twitter share price set for liftoff with Musk at the helm or is it the beginning of the end for the social media?

In a new twist to the tale of Twitter’s acquisition by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest man announced on Monday…
The post Is the Twitter…



In a new twist to the tale of Twitter’s acquisition by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest man announced on Monday that he would, after all, close the deal at the $54.20-a-share price agreed in the spring. After having his official bid for the micro-blogging social media platform accepted in April, Musk formally attempted to back out of the deal, citing doubts over the validity of Twitter’s claimed active real user numbers.

However, on Monday evening he said he said he would in fact go ahead with the acquisition at the agreed price. The deal is not done yet, as emphasised by the fact the Twitter share price yesterday closed at $49.39 after a near 4% drop from Wednesday’s optimistic-looking $52.02.

A significant amount of mistrust has built up between both parties and yesterday lawyers acting on behalf of Musk were criticising Twitter’s failure to withdraw litigation and cancel a trial scheduled to take place in Delaware in November. A tit-for-tat legal exchange yesterday saw Musk’s lawyers submit a filing that exclaimed “Twitter will not take yes for an answer”, quickly countered by Twitter’s lawyers who responded the request to pull the trial before a deal is closed was an “invitation to further mischief and delay”.

A Delaware judge has, however, given Musk a new deadline of 5pm October 28 by which to complete the deal and it looks more like than not that he will be the new majority owner of Twitter by Halloween.

While nothing can be guaranteed when it comes to predicting Elon Musk’s next move, it does look very much like he has accepted legal advice he cannot extract himself from the deal without paying much more than the reportedly agreed $1 billion “break” payment. That clause would only come into effect under certain conditions and legal experts have cast serious doubts on the likelihood of Musk convincing a Delaware judge he was misled by Twitter over active user numbers.

It is far more likely he would be told he signed a contract and his complaints can be put down to a lack of due diligence on his part. If he wanted to dispute Twitter’s methodology for counting active real user numbers, which was clearly stated leaves room for error, he should have done so before signing.

If he did pull out he would be expected to lose the lawsuit that would inevitably be brought against him by Twitter and face a fine of several billion dollars. As such, the market is betting on him having concluded he has to make the most of the ownership of Twitter, since he can’t get out of it without accepting great personal financial cost.

But one thing’s for certain, Twitter under Musk’s ownership will be focused on making more money. Monetisation and revenue growth has been the perennial problem for the social media platform, which has always been far higher profile and more socially and politically influential than it has been profitable.

Musk will be determined to change that and hasn’t been reticent in expressing his ideas on how to go about it. The question is if the serial entrepreneur who made his billionaire breakthrough when his early online bank merged with Paypal, will succeed where Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and successive independent boards have failed.

It’s hard to argue Musk’s track record in growing businesses is not impressive. After leaving Paypal, he went on to co-found Tesla, the world’s most valuable car company, as an early majority investor, Space X the satellites and space exploration company and several other enterprises. But the world’s richest man and arguably its most successful serial entrepreneur has no experience in social media, other than as a prolific and often controversial Twitter user with 107.8 million followers.

Will his golden touch work again or is the Twitter acquisition an impulse buy vanity project that spiralled out of his control?

Will the Twitter share price soar under Musk’s ownership?

The big questions are what might Musk do in an attempt to improve Twitter and attract more and more engaged users and generate higher revenues in roughly its present format. Musk himself has made numerous statements since the spring which offer plenty of early insight into what investors, users and other Twitter stakeholders might expect.

Number of monetizable daily active Twitter users (mDAU) worldwide from 1st quarter 2017 to 2nd quarter 2022 (in millions)


Source: Statista

In June, Musk told Twitter employees he wants to increase user number from the then level of 217 million (20% of which Musk believes to be bots to Twitter’s 5% estimate) to 931 million by 2028. He also wants revenues to hit $26.4 billion by 2028 from $5 billion last year.

If he achieves that, or anywhere close to it, Twitter will be worth many times more than it currently is. There are numerous clues to how he plans to or might go about achieving those targets in his recent utterances and texts and other communications that have been revealed in court.

Management and workforce

If Musk’s acquisition does indeed go ahead before the October 28 deadline set this week by a judge, it can be presumed Twitter’s current CEO Parag Agrawal will be looking for a new job by November. It’s fair to say the evidence suggests the pair do not get on.

Text messages between the two shown in court start professionally but descend into acrimony with Musk at one stage pointedly asking the Twitter CEO “What did you get done this week”.

A phone call between them arranged by Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey was followed by him stating “It became clear that you can’t work together”.

It seems inevitable that Musk will get rid of Agrawal as soon as he takes over ownership of the company but doing so will come at a price. The CEO’s contract means he will bank $42 million if sacked.

Some analysts and commentators also think there is a risk of a mass exodus of Twitter’s workforce, which is believed to be largely liberal. Musk is, by contrast, renowned for his right-wing views and has a reputation as a hard taskmaster. He has also demanded employees at his other companies return to the office in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, while Twitter currently operates a remote work policy.

However, while replacing large numbers of key employees will be a challenge, Musk might well see a self-purge by the company’s staff that don’t align with his views and way of working as a short, sharp pain that is better to get out of the way early and quickly. Even if it leads to disruption.

In text messages exchanged with his friend, the investor Jason Calacanis, Musk stated that there was “insane potential for improvement” in employee productivity when the former pointed out that revenue per Twitter staffer was $625,000 compared with Apple’s $2.37 million and Google’s $1.9 million.

Musk will demand more of the company’s employees but also wants to increase numbers at Twitter from the current 7500 to over 11,000. There may be a major changing of the guard but he has enough of a cult of personality that as many talented engineers who are put off by him may well be keen to work for him and under the conditions he demands of them.

Free speech

Musk is a self-confessed extremist on the topic of free speech and believes in a complete lack of censorship. He’s already promised to lift the ban on the former U.S. president Donald Trump, describing it as “flat-out stupid”.

Even if Trump, who has said he wants to remain loyal to Truth Social, the conservative site he founded, doesn’t return to Twitter, other controversial figures who have been banned might. Musk has said he favours suspensions to bans but has also commented on the vision of Twitter as entirely censorship-free.

That would roll back years of attempts by Twitter to moderate and censor content in an effort to clean up its early reputation as a playground for hate and harassment. How returning Twitter to its libertarian roots will work out is anyone’s guess.


But Musk seems convinced that his plan to clean up bot-controlled Twitter accounts will also lead to better self-moderation by users. He is convinced 20% of the platform’s user accounts are fake or bots and his proposed solution to ridding the platform of them is for every user to have to confirm their identity, removing anonymity. Whatever any user posts on Twitter will be traceable back to an individual.

However, by doing so, Musk could wipe tens of millions of accounts from the platform which would be expected to hurt its valuation in the short term at least. How much of a better user experience a botless Twitter would be is debatable. There are also many bot accounts Twitter considers “good”.

These scripts pick up and share content on particular themes and hashtags and Twitter says it is very difficult to automate a way to differentiate between good and bad bots. If Musk wants no bots on the platform of the kind considered “bad” he may have to accept no bots at all.


Over the years, Musk has regularly criticised Twitter’s ability to generate revenue as successfully as other social media. Founder Dorsey and previous boards have argued its intrinsic nature as a microblogging platform has meant there is simply less opportunity to monetise users but not every analyst and commentator, including Musk, has always been fully convinced more can’t be done.

Musk has several times floated the concept of a subscription model for premium Twitter accounts which offer greater visibility, social credit and other advantages. Simply having many times more users would also be expected to make Twitter much more profitable.

But it is here that the longer-term question arises. How might Musk change and evolve Twitter to make more money?

X – the everything app

Musk’s long-term plans for Twitter are, like his short-term vision for improvements, not a secret. At least, he has made public statements around his ambitions for an “everything app” he calls X, like his first business, the online bank, which he has stated in the past he originally had a grander vision for than just banking.

He appears to retain those ambitions, tweeting earlier this week

“buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.”

He has also namechecked Tencent’s WeChat app on several occasions and it seems very much like he plans to use Twitter as the starting point to building out X. In June he told Twitter employees

“there is no equivalent of WeChat outside of China. There’s a real opportunity to create that.”

And in an August meeting he mused of X:

“Obviously that could be started from scratch, but I think Twitter would help accelerate that by three-to-five years. So it’s kind of something that I thought would be quite useful for a long time. I know what to do.”

WeChat has 1.3 billion users in China and Chinese-speaking communities in other, mainly South-East Asian, countries but also among expats and ethnic Chinese who are citizens of other countries, including the USA. It started as a pure chat app but is now an all-in-one platform that allows users to also do things like send payments, book taxis, read news and watch entertainment. It does so much by enabling third-party developers to create “mini apps” that attach to the main service.

It’s a sprawling tech ecosystem wrapped up in an app that last year generated $17.4 billion, 19% of parent company Tencent’s total revenue. The Hong Kong-listed Chinese tech giant is worth $342.59.

Even China’s state pandemic-tracking system works through WeChat: it notes what health code a user is, which determines where they can go and whether they can take public transportation and enter public venues. Businesses use WeChat too with its trading economy worth roughly $240 billion.

That Musk would like to turn Twitter into something akin to WeChat for the West seems in little doubt. If he will succeed in doing so in another question.

How and why might Twitter become Elon Musk’s corporate ‘nam?

Musk has a history of delivering big on his grand visions, even after years of being written off. But like almost any serial entrepreneur, he has also had failures in his business life. His big statements on the future of HyperLoop transportation technology, which inspired him to found The Boring Company, now look unlikely to come to much. While there is still time for him to be proved wrong, it’s looking increasingly like we’ll be sticking to good old metro and other forms of more tradition rail-based transport for the foreseeable future.

His plans to break Twitter free of its censorship and content moderation shackles and rebrand it as the social media for free speech could, believe some, go horribly wrong. Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, has commented

“Musk will turn Twitter into a fever swamp of dangerous conspiracy theories, partisan chicanery, and operationalised harassment.”

If that dystopian scenario comes to pass, it would be expected to be a big turn-off for advertisers that even an explosion in active, verifiably real user numbers might not compensate for. A Twitter that is not seeing quick, sustainable revenue growth might quickly lose its allure for Musk. Making Twitter a platform for free speech without it descending into toxic anarchy is also a different kind of problem from those he is used to solving. In the past, he has always looked for an engineering solution to core problems facing the businesses he has started or taken over. The problem with content is that it’s not something a well-designed machine has ever been shown as effective at moderating well.

Other barriers to Musk achieving his X everything app vision for Twitter include the anti-trust environment in the USA which is very different to China’s. It’s difficult to see regulators allowing one company, especially a company majority owned by Tesla’s major shareholder, to have the same level of influence and monopoly in the USA that WeChat has in Asia.

A bet on the Twitter share price now is a bet on Musk himself

Whatever the eventual outcome, if there are no final twists to this tale and Elon Musk takes majority ownership of Twitter before the end of this month, it’s almost guaranteed to be a dramatic ride. It looks like Musk will shake Twitter to its roots and after his initial shock treatment, start the microblogging platform on a path towards becoming much more, even if completely mirroring Asia’s super apps proves impossible in the West’s anti-trust environment.

But if he achieves even part of what he has said he plans to, Twitter should be worth far more than it is today 2, 5 and 10 years from now. If he will or not, is very hard to tell at this stage. An investment in Twitter at its current share price is an investment in Musk. And his ability to put in place a board and management that will execute his vision while he continues to split his time between Tesla, SpaceX and his other ventures that should soon include the app.

But he’s been proving his doubters wrong for a long time now. As the analyst Benedict Evans tweeted in February 2021:

“Elon Musk is a bullshitter who delivers. This breaks a lot of people’s pattern-matching, in both directions,”

Can he deliver again? Calling it now would be high risk but plenty of investors will be keeping a close eye on Twitter under Musk over the months ahead for early clues he might.

The post Is the Twitter share price set for liftoff with Musk at the helm or is it the beginning of the end for the social media? first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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Rand Paul Teases Senate GOP Leader Run – Musk Says “I Would Support”

Rand Paul Teases Senate GOP Leader Run – Musk Says "I Would Support"

Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul on Friday hinted that he may jump…



Rand Paul Teases Senate GOP Leader Run - Musk Says "I Would Support"

Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul on Friday hinted that he may jump into the race to become the next Senate GOP leader, and Elon Musk was quick to support the idea. Republicans must find a successor for periodically malfunctioning Mitch McConnell, who recently announced he'll step down in November, though intending to keep his Senate seat until his term ends in January 2027, when he'd be within weeks of turning 86. 

So far, the announced field consists of two quintessential establishment types: John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota. While John Barrasso's name had been thrown around as one of "The Three Johns" considered top contenders, the Wyoming senator on Tuesday said he'll instead seek the number two slot as party whip. 

Paul used X to tease his potential bid for the position which -- if the GOP takes back the upper chamber in November -- could graduate from Minority Leader to Majority Leader. He started by telling his 5.1 million followers he'd had lots of people asking him about his interest in running...

...then followed up with a poll in which he predictably annihilated Cornyn and Thune, taking a 96% share as of Friday night, with the other two below 2% each. 

Elon Musk was quick to back the idea of Paul as GOP leader, while daring Cornyn and Thune to follow Paul's lead by throwing their names out for consideration by the Twitter-verse X-verse. 

Paul has been a stalwart opponent of security-state mass surveillance, foreign interventionism -- to include shoveling billions of dollars into the proxy war in Ukraine -- and out-of-control spending in general. He demonstrated the latter passion on the Senate floor this week as he ridiculed the latest kick-the-can spending package:   

In February, Paul used Senate rules to force his colleagues into a grueling Super Bowl weekend of votes, as he worked to derail a $95 billion foreign aid bill. "I think we should stay here as long as it takes,” said Paul. “If it takes a week or a month, I’ll force them to stay here to discuss why they think the border of Ukraine is more important than the US border.”

Don't expect a Majority Leader Paul to ditch the filibuster -- he's been a hardy user of the legislative delay tactic. In 2013, he spoke for 13 hours to fight the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director. In 2015, he orated for 10-and-a-half-hours to oppose extension of the Patriot Act

Rand Paul amid his 10 1/2 hour filibuster in 2015

Among the general public, Paul is probably best known as Capitol Hill's chief tormentor of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease during the Covid-19 pandemic. Paul says the evidence indicates the virus emerged from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology. He's accused Fauci and other members of the US government public health apparatus of evading questions about their funding of the Chinese lab's "gain of function" research, which takes natural viruses and morphs them into something more dangerous. Paul has pointedly said that Fauci committed perjury in congressional hearings and that he belongs in jail "without question."   

Musk is neither the only nor the first noteworthy figure to back Paul for party leader. Just hours after McConnell announced his upcoming step-down from leadership, independent 2024 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr voiced his support: 

In a testament to the extent to which the establishment recoils at the libertarian-minded Paul, mainstream media outlets -- which have been quick to report on other developments in the majority leader race -- pretended not to notice that Paul had signaled his interest in the job. More than 24 hours after Paul's test-the-waters tweet-fest began, not a single major outlet had brought it to the attention of their audience. 

That may be his strongest endorsement yet. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 03/10/2024 - 20:25

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‘I couldn’t stand the pain’: the Turkish holiday resort that’s become an emergency dental centre for Britons who can’t get treated at home

The crisis in NHS dentistry is driving increasing numbers abroad for treatment. Here are some of their stories.

This clinic in the Turkish resort of Antalya is the official 'dental sponsor' of the Miss England competition. Diana Ibanez-Tirado, Author provided

It’s a hot summer day in the Turkish city of Antalya, a Mediterranean resort with golden beaches, deep blue sea and vibrant nightlife. The pool area of the all-inclusive resort is crammed with British people on sun loungers – but they aren’t here for a holiday. This hotel is linked to a dental clinic that organises treatment packages, and most of these guests are here to see a dentist.

From Norwich, two women talk about gums and injections. A man from Wales holds a tissue close to his mouth and spits blood – he has just had two molars extracted.

The dental clinic organises everything for these dental “tourists” throughout their treatment, which typically lasts from three to 15 days. The stories I hear of what has caused them to travel to Turkey are strikingly similar: all have struggled to secure dental treatment at home on the NHS.

“The hotel is nice and some days I go to the beach,” says Susan*, a hairdresser in her mid-30s from Norwich. “But really, we aren’t tourists like in a proper holiday. We come here because we have no choice. I couldn’t stand the pain.”

Seaside beach resort with mountains in the distance
The Turkish Mediterranean resort of Antalya. Akimov Konstantin/Shutterstock

This is Susan’s second visit to Antalya. She explains that her ordeal started two years earlier:

I went to an NHS dentist who told me I had gum disease … She did some cleaning to my teeth and gums but it got worse. When I ate, my teeth were moving … the gums were bleeding and it was very painful. I called to say I was in pain but the clinic was not accepting NHS patients any more.

The only option the dentist offered Susan was to register as a private patient:

I asked how much. They said £50 for x-rays and then if the gum disease got worse, £300 or so for extraction. Four of them were moving – imagine: £1,200 for losing your teeth! Without teeth I’d lose my clients, but I didn’t have the money. I’m a single mum. I called my mum and cried.

Susan’s mother told her about a friend of hers who had been to Turkey for treatment, then together they found a suitable clinic:

The prices are so much cheaper! Tooth extraction, x-rays, consultations – it all comes included. The flight and hotel for seven days cost the same as losing four teeth in Norwich … I had my lower teeth removed here six months ago, now I’ve got implants … £2,800 for everything – hotel, transfer, treatments. I only paid the flights separately.

In the UK, roughly half the adult population suffers from periodontitis – inflammation of the gums caused by plaque bacteria that can lead to irreversible loss of gums, teeth, and bone. Regular reviews by a dentist or hygienist are required to manage this condition. But nine out of ten dental practices cannot offer NHS appointments to new adult patients, while eight in ten are not accepting new child patients.

Some UK dentists argue that Britons who travel abroad for treatment do so mainly for cosmetic procedures. They warn that dental tourism is dangerous, and that if their treatment goes wrong, dentists in the UK will be unable to help because they don’t want to be responsible for further damage. Susan shrugs this off:

Dentists in England say: ‘If you go to Turkey, we won’t touch you [afterwards].’ But I don’t worry because there are no appointments at home anyway. They couldn’t help in the first place, and this is why we are in Turkey.

‘How can we pay all this money?’

As a social anthropologist, I travelled to Turkey a number of times in 2023 to investigate the crisis of NHS dentistry, and the journeys abroad that UK patients are increasingly making as a result. I have relatives in Istanbul and have been researching migration and trading patterns in Turkey’s largest city since 2016.

In August 2023, I visited the resort in Antalya, nearly 400 miles south of Istanbul. As well as Susan, I met a group from a village in Wales who said there was no provision of NHS dentistry back home. They had organised a two-week trip to Turkey: the 12-strong group included a middle-aged couple with two sons in their early 20s, and two couples who were pensioners. By going together, Anya tells me, they could support each other through their different treatments:

I’ve had many cavities since I was little … Before, you could see a dentist regularly – you didn’t even think about it. If you had pain or wanted a regular visit, you phoned and you went … That was in the 1990s, when I went to the dentist maybe every year.

Anya says that once she had children, her family and work commitments meant she had no time to go to the dentist. Then, years later, she started having serious toothache:

Every time I chewed something, it hurt. I ate soups and soft food, and I also lost weight … Even drinking was painful – tea: pain, cold water: pain. I was taking paracetamol all the time! I went to the dentist to fix all this, but there were no appointments.

Anya was told she would have to wait months, or find a dentist elsewhere:

A private clinic gave me a list of things I needed done. Oh my God, almost £6,000. My husband went too – same story. How can we pay all this money? So we decided to come to Turkey. Some people we know had been here, and others in the village wanted to come too. We’ve brought our sons too – they also need to be checked and fixed. Our whole family could be fixed for less than £6,000.

By the time they travelled, Anya’s dental problems had turned into a dental emergency. She says she could not live with the pain anymore, and was relying on paracetamol.

In 2023, about 6 million adults in the UK experienced protracted pain (lasting more than two weeks) caused by toothache. Unintentional paracetamol overdose due to dental pain is a significant cause of admissions to acute medical units. If left untreated, tooth infections can spread to other parts of the body and cause life-threatening complications – and on rare occasions, death.

In February 2024, police were called to manage hundreds of people queuing outside a newly opened dental clinic in Bristol, all hoping to be registered or seen by an NHS dentist. One in ten Britons have admitted to performing “DIY dentistry”, of which 20% did so because they could not find a timely appointment. This includes people pulling out their teeth with pliers and using superglue to repair their teeth.

In the 1990s, dentistry was almost entirely provided through NHS services, with only around 500 solely private dentists registered. Today, NHS dentist numbers in England are at their lowest level in a decade, with 23,577 dentists registered to perform NHS work in 2022-23, down 695 on the previous year. Furthermore, the precise division of NHS and private work that each dentist provides is not measured.

The COVID pandemic created longer waiting lists for NHS treatment in an already stretched public service. In Bridlington, Yorkshire, people are now reportedly having to wait eight-to-nine years to get an NHS dental appointment with the only remaining NHS dentist in the town.

In his book Patients of the State (2012), Argentine sociologist Javier Auyero describes the “indignities of waiting”. It is the poor who are mostly forced to wait, he writes. Queues for state benefits and public services constitute a tangible form of power over the marginalised. There is an ethnic dimension to this story, too. Data suggests that in the UK, patients less likely to be effective in booking an NHS dental appointment are non-white ethnic groups and Gypsy or Irish travellers, and that it is particularly challenging for refugees and asylum-seekers to access dental care.

This article is part of Conversation Insights
The Insights team generates long-form journalism derived from interdisciplinary research. The team is working with academics from different backgrounds who have been engaged in projects aimed at tackling societal and scientific challenges.

In 2022, I experienced my own dental emergency. An infected tooth was causing me debilitating pain, and needed root canal treatment. I was advised this would cost £71 on the NHS, plus £307 for a follow-up crown – but that I would have to wait months for an appointment. The pain became excruciating – I could not sleep, let alone wait for months. In the same clinic, privately, I was quoted £1,300 for the treatment (more than half my monthly income at the time), or £295 for a tooth extraction.

I did not want to lose my tooth because of lack of money. So I bought a flight to Istanbul immediately for the price of the extraction in the UK, and my tooth was treated with root canal therapy by a private dentist there for £80. Including the costs of travelling, the total was a third of what I was quoted to be treated privately in the UK. Two years on, my treated tooth hasn’t given me any more problems.

A better quality of life

Not everyone is in Antalya for emergency procedures. The pensioners from Wales had contacted numerous clinics they found on the internet, comparing prices, treatments and hotel packages at least a year in advance, in a carefully planned trip to get dental implants – artificial replacements for tooth roots that help support dentures, crowns and bridges.

Street view of a dental clinic in Antalya, Turkey
Dental clinic in Antalya, Turkey. Diana Ibanez-Tirado, CC BY-NC-ND

In Turkey, all the dentists I speak to (most of whom cater mainly for foreigners, including UK nationals) consider implants not a cosmetic or luxurious treatment, but a development in dentistry that gives patients who are able to have the procedure a much better quality of life. This procedure is not available on the NHS for most of the UK population, and the patients I meet in Turkey could not afford implants in private clinics back home.

Paul is in Antalya to replace his dentures, which have become uncomfortable and irritating to his gums, with implants. He says he couldn’t find an appointment to see an NHS dentist. His wife Sonia went through a similar procedure the year before and is very satisfied with the results, telling me: “Why have dentures that you need to put in a glass overnight, in the old style? If you can have implants, I say, you’re better off having them.”

Most of the dental tourists I meet in Antalya are white British: this city, known as the Turkish Riviera, has developed an entire economy catering to English-speaking tourists. In 2023, more than 1.3 million people visited the city from the UK, up almost 15% on the previous year.

Read more: NHS dentistry is in crisis – are overseas dentists the answer?

In contrast, the Britons I meet in Istanbul are predominantly from a non-white ethnic background. Omar, a pensioner of Pakistani origin in his early 70s, has come here after waiting “half a year” for an NHS appointment to fix the dental bridge that is causing him pain. Omar’s son had been previously for a hair transplant, and was offered a free dental checkup by the same clinic, so he suggested it to his father. Having worked as a driver for a manufacturing company for two decades in Birmingham, Omar says he feels disappointed to have contributed to the British economy for so long, only to be “let down” by the NHS:

At home, I must wait and wait and wait to get a bridge – and then I had many problems with it. I couldn’t eat because the bridge was uncomfortable and I was in pain, but there were no appointments on the NHS. I asked a private dentist and they recommended implants, but they are far too expensive [in the UK]. I started losing weight, which is not a bad thing at the beginning, but then I was worrying because I couldn’t chew and eat well and was losing more weight … Here in Istanbul, I got dental implants – US$500 each, problem solved! In England, each implant is maybe £2,000 or £3,000.

In the waiting area of another clinic in Istanbul, I meet Mariam, a British woman of Iraqi background in her late 40s, who is making her second visit to the dentist here. Initially, she needed root canal therapy after experiencing severe pain for weeks. Having been quoted £1,200 in a private clinic in outer London, Mariam decided to fly to Istanbul instead, where she was quoted £150 by a dentist she knew through her large family. Even considering the cost of the flight, Mariam says the decision was obvious:

Dentists in England are so expensive and NHS appointments so difficult to find. It’s awful there, isn’t it? Dentists there blamed me for my rotten teeth. They say it’s my fault: I don’t clean or I ate sugar, or this or that. I grew up in a village in Iraq and didn’t go to the dentist – we were very poor. Then we left because of war, so we didn’t go to a dentist … When I arrived in London more than 20 years ago, I didn’t speak English, so I still didn’t go to the dentist … I think when you move from one place to another, you don’t go to the dentist unless you are in real, real pain.

In Istanbul, Mariam has opted not only for the urgent root canal treatment but also a longer and more complex treatment suggested by her consultant, who she says is a renowned doctor from Syria. This will include several extractions and implants of back and front teeth, and when I ask what she thinks of achieving a “Hollywood smile”, Mariam says:

Who doesn’t want a nice smile? I didn’t come here to be a model. I came because I was in pain, but I know this doctor is the best for implants, and my front teeth were rotten anyway.

Dentists in the UK warn about the risks of “overtreatment” abroad, but Mariam appears confident that this is her opportunity to solve all her oral health problems. Two of her sisters have already been through a similar treatment, so they all trust this doctor.

Alt text
An Istanbul clinic founded by Afghan dentists has a message for its UK customers. Diana Ibanez-Tirado, CC BY-NC-ND

The UK’s ‘dental deserts’

To get a fuller understanding of the NHS dental crisis, I’ve also conducted 20 interviews in the UK with people who have travelled or were considering travelling abroad for dental treatment.

Joan, a 50-year-old woman from Exeter, tells me she considered going to Turkey and could have afforded it, but that her back and knee problems meant she could not brave the trip. She has lost all her lower front teeth due to gum disease and, when I meet her, has been waiting 13 months for an NHS dental appointment. Joan tells me she is living in “shame”, unable to smile.

In the UK, areas with extremely limited provision of NHS dental services – known as as “dental deserts” – include densely populated urban areas such as Portsmouth and Greater Manchester, as well as many rural and coastal areas.

In Felixstowe, the last dentist taking NHS patients went private in 2023, despite the efforts of the activist group Toothless in Suffolk to secure better access to NHS dentists in the area. It’s a similar story in Ripon, Yorkshire, and in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, where nearly 25,000 patients have been de-registered from NHS dentists since 2021.

Data shows that 2 million adults must travel at least 40 miles within the UK to access dental care. Branding travel for dental care as “tourism” carries the risk of disguising the elements of duress under which patients move to restore their oral health – nationally and internationally. It also hides the immobility of those who cannot undertake such journeys.

The 90-year-old woman in Dumfries & Galloway who now faces travelling for hours by bus to see an NHS dentist can hardly be considered “tourism” – nor the Ukrainian war refugees who travelled back from West Sussex and Norwich to Ukraine, rather than face the long wait to see an NHS dentist.

Many people I have spoken to cannot afford the cost of transport to attend dental appointments two hours away – or they have care responsibilities that make it impossible. Instead, they are forced to wait in pain, in the hope of one day securing an appointment closer to home.

Billboard advertising a dental clinic in Turkey
Dental clinics have mushroomed in recent years in Turkey, thanks to the influx of foreign patients seeking a wide range of treatments. Diana Ibanez-Tirado, CC BY-NC-ND

‘Your crisis is our business’

The indignities of waiting in the UK are having a big impact on the lives of some local and foreign dentists in Turkey. Some neighbourhoods are rapidly changing as dental and other health clinics, usually in luxurious multi-storey glass buildings, mushroom. In the office of one large Istanbul medical complex with sections for hair transplants and dentistry (plus one linked to a hospital for more extensive cosmetic surgery), its Turkish owner and main investor tells me:

Your crisis is our business, but this is a bazaar. There are good clinics and bad clinics, and unfortunately sometimes foreign patients do not know which one to choose. But for us, the business is very good.

This clinic only caters to foreign patients. The owner, an architect by profession who also developed medical clinics in Brazil, describes how COVID had a major impact on his business:

When in Europe you had COVID lockdowns, Turkey allowed foreigners to come. Many people came for ‘medical tourism’ – we had many patients for cosmetic surgery and hair transplants. And that was when the dental business started, because our patients couldn’t see a dentist in Germany or England. Then more and more patients started to come for dental treatments, especially from the UK and Ireland. For them, it’s very, very cheap here.

The reasons include the value of the Turkish lira relative to the British pound, the low cost of labour, the increasing competition among Turkish clinics, and the sheer motivation of dentists here. While most dentists catering to foreign patients are from Turkey, others have arrived seeking refuge from war and violence in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and beyond. They work diligently to rebuild their lives, careers and lost wealth.

Regardless of their origin, all dentists in Turkey must be registered and certified. Hamed, a Syrian dentist and co-owner of a new clinic in Istanbul catering to European and North American patients, tells me:

I know that you say ‘Syrian’ and people think ‘migrant’, ‘refugee’, and maybe think ‘how can this dentist be good?’ – but Syria, before the war, had very good doctors and dentists. Many of us came to Turkey and now I have a Turkish passport. I had to pass the exams to practise dentistry here – I study hard. The exams are in Turkish and they are difficult, so you cannot say that Syrian doctors are stupid.

Hamed talks excitedly about the latest technology that is coming to his profession: “There are always new materials and techniques, and we cannot stop learning.” He is about to travel to Paris to an international conference:

I can say my techniques are very advanced … I bet I put more implants and do more bone grafting and surgeries every week than any dentist you know in England. A good dentist is about practice and hand skills and experience. I work hard, very hard, because more and more patients are arriving to my clinic, because in England they don’t find dentists.

Dental equipment in a Turkish treatment room
Dentists in Turkey boast of using the latest technology. Diana Ibanez-Tirado, CC BY-NC-ND

While there is no official data about the number of people travelling from the UK to Turkey for dental treatment, investors and dentists I speak to consider that numbers are rocketing. From all over the world, Turkey received 1.2 million visitors for “medical tourism” in 2022, an increase of 308% on the previous year. Of these, about 250,000 patients went for dentistry. One of the most renowned dental clinics in Istanbul had only 15 British patients in 2019, but that number increased to 2,200 in 2023 and is expected to reach 5,500 in 2024.

Like all forms of medical care, dental treatments carry risks. Most clinics in Turkey offer a ten-year guarantee for treatments and a printed clinical history of procedures carried out, so patients can show this to their local dentists and continue their regular annual care in the UK. Dental treatments, checkups and maintaining a good oral health is a life-time process, not a one-off event.

Many UK patients, however, are caught between a rock and a hard place – criticised for going abroad, yet unable to get affordable dental care in the UK before and after their return. The British Dental Association has called for more action to inform these patients about the risks of getting treated overseas – and has warned UK dentists about the legal implications of treating these patients on their return. But this does not address the difficulties faced by British patients who are being forced to go abroad in search of affordable, often urgent dental care.

A global emergency

The World Health Organization states that the explosion of oral disease around the world is a result of the “negligent attitude” that governments, policymakers and insurance companies have towards including oral healthcare under the umbrella of universal healthcare. It as if the health of our teeth and mouth is optional; somehow less important than treatment to the rest of our body. Yet complications from untreated tooth decay can lead to hospitalisation.

The main causes of oral health diseases are untreated tooth decay, severe gum disease, toothlessness, and cancers of the lip and oral cavity. Cases grew during the pandemic, when little or no attention was paid to oral health. Meanwhile, the global cosmetic dentistry market is predicted to continue growing at an annual rate of 13% for the rest of this decade, confirming the strong relationship between socioeconomic status and access to oral healthcare.

In the UK since 2018, there have been more than 218,000 admissions to hospital for rotting teeth, of which more than 100,000 were children. Some 40% of children in the UK have not seen a dentist in the past 12 months. The role of dentists in prevention of tooth decay and its complications, and in the early detection of mouth cancer, is vital. While there is a 90% survival rate for mouth cancer if spotted early, the lack of access to dental appointments is causing cases to go undetected.

The reasons for the crisis in NHS dentistry are complex, but include: the real-term cuts in funding to NHS dentistry; the challenges of recruitment and retention of dentists in rural and coastal areas; pay inequalities facing dental nurses, most of them women, who are being badly hit by the cost of living crisis; and, in England, the 2006 Dental Contract that does not remunerate dentists in a way that encourages them to continue seeing NHS patients.

The UK is suffering a mass exodus of the public dentistry workforce, with workers leaving the profession entirely or shifting to the private sector, where payments and life-work balance are better, bureaucracy is reduced, and prospects for career development look much better. A survey of general dental practitioners found that around half have reduced their NHS work since the pandemic – with 43% saying they were likely to go fully private, and 42% considering a career change or taking early retirement.

Reversing the UK’s dental crisis requires more commitment to substantial reform and funding than the “recovery plan” announced by Victoria Atkins, the secretary of state for health and social care, on February 7.

The stories I have gathered show that people travelling abroad for dental treatment don’t see themselves as “tourists” or vanity-driven consumers of the “Hollywood smile”. Rather, they have been forced by the crisis in NHS dentistry to seek out a service 1,500 miles away in Turkey that should be a basic, affordable right for all, on their own doorstep.

*Names in this article have been changed to protect the anonymity of the interviewees.

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Diana Ibanez Tirado receives funding from the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex.

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Beloved mall retailer files Chapter 7 bankruptcy, will liquidate

The struggling chain has given up the fight and will close hundreds of stores around the world.



It has been a brutal period for several popular retailers. The fallout from the covid pandemic and a challenging economic environment have pushed numerous chains into bankruptcy with Tuesday Morning, Christmas Tree Shops, and Bed Bath & Beyond all moving from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

In all three of those cases, the companies faced clear financial pressures that led to inventory problems and vendors demanding faster, or even upfront payment. That creates a sort of inevitability.

Related: Beloved retailer finds life after bankruptcy, new famous owner

When a retailer faces financial pressure it sets off a cycle where vendors become wary of selling them items. That leads to barren shelves and no ability for the chain to sell its way out of its financial problems. 

Once that happens bankruptcy generally becomes the only option. Sometimes that means a Chapter 11 filing which gives the company a chance to negotiate with its creditors. In some cases, deals can be worked out where vendors extend longer terms or even forgive some debts, and banks offer an extension of loan terms.

In other cases, new funding can be secured which assuages vendor concerns or the company might be taken over by its vendors. Sometimes, as was the case with David's Bridal, a new owner steps in, adds new money, and makes deals with creditors in order to give the company a new lease on life.

It's rare that a retailer moves directly into Chapter 7 bankruptcy and decides to liquidate without trying to find a new source of funding.

Mall traffic has varied depending upon the type of mall.

Image source: Getty Images

The Body Shop has bad news for customers  

The Body Shop has been in a very public fight for survival. Fears began when the company closed half of its locations in the United Kingdom. That was followed by a bankruptcy-style filing in Canada and an abrupt closure of its U.S. stores on March 4.

"The Canadian subsidiary of the global beauty and cosmetics brand announced it has started restructuring proceedings by filing a Notice of Intention (NOI) to Make a Proposal pursuant to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada). In the same release, the company said that, as of March 1, 2024, The Body Shop US Limited has ceased operations," Chain Store Age reported.

A message on the company's U.S. website shared a simple message that does not appear to be the entire story.

"We're currently undergoing planned maintenance, but don't worry we're due to be back online soon."

That same message is still on the company's website, but a new filing makes it clear that the site is not down for maintenance, it's down for good.

The Body Shop files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

While the future appeared bleak for The Body Shop, fans of the brand held out hope that a savior would step in. That's not going to be the case. 

The Body Shop filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the United States.

"The US arm of the ethical cosmetics group has ceased trading at its 50 outlets. On Saturday (March 9), it filed for Chapter 7 insolvency, under which assets are sold off to clear debts, putting about 400 jobs at risk including those in a distribution center that still holds millions of dollars worth of stock," The Guardian reported.

After its closure in the United States, the survival of the brand remains very much in doubt. About half of the chain's stores in the United Kingdom remain open along with its Australian stores. 

The future of those stores remains very much in doubt and the chain has shared that it needs new funding in order for them to continue operating.

The Body Shop did not respond to a request for comment from TheStreet.   

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