Saudi fund expressed support for taking Tesla private: Musk

13 August, 2018, 18:21 | Author: Shannon Aguilar
  • Tesla CEO Musk Struggling for Clarity in ‘420’ Surprise

Tesla Inc and Chief Executive Elon Musk were sued twice on Friday by investors who said they fraudulently engineered a scheme to squeeze short-sellers, including through Musk's proposal to take the electric vehicle company private.

If it went private, Tesla wouldn't need to worry about catering to its quarterly reports, which could free it up to move faster in other places, like new-car development.

That meeting inspired Musk's "funding secured" tweet last week that said he was "considering taking Tesla private" at $420 a share, he wrote.

The Saudi sovereign wealth fund recently bought a 5% stake in Tesla.

In laying out why he is considering taking Tesla private, Musk pointed in part to shorts. But Tesla shares were up only minimally in early trading, suggesting investors are yet to be convinced. The board held a meeting (without Musk or his brother Kimbal, who is also a board member), and Musk said he would reach out to some of Tesla's biggest investors to further discuss the issue.

I left the July 31st meeting with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving.

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The SEC has asked Tesla if Musk had facts to back up his claim on Twitter that funding is "secured", people familiar with the regulator's inquiry told the Wall Street Journal last week. "So the potential investor must be patient and strategic-looking". While the entrepreneur owns 20 percent of Tesla, more than $60 billion would be needed to buy the business from public shareholders.

PIF is in talks to take part in any pool of investors that would fund the buyout, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday, citing people with knowledge of the Saudi fund's plans. Our largest investors have been extremely supportive of Tesla over the years, and understanding whether they had the ability and desire to remain as shareholders in a private Tesla is of critical importance to me. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has been gathering information about Tesla's public pronouncements on manufacturing goals and sales targets, is intensifying its scrutiny of the company's public statements in the wake of Musk's tweet, people familiar with the matter have said.

PIF invested $3.5 billion in ride-sharing company Uber past year.

The board will make a decision on whether to hire advisers and launch a formal review of Musk's take-private proposal in the coming days, based on how much detail on the financing plan it receives from Musk, another source said.

The Saudi government is planning to turn the PIF into a US$2 trillion powerhouse to help diversify the kingdom's oil-dependent economy.

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