Tesla board evaluating CEO Musk's idea to take company private

Danny Moloshok  Reuters

Danny Moloshok Reuters

The company declined to comment beyond pointing to an all-employee email sent Tuesday by Musk.

The issue of share accumulation by outsiders emerged only recently as reports that Saudi Arabia's public investment fund had built up a stake from 3 to 5 percent after its offers of purchase of new shares in Tesla were spurned by the company.

Musk said in a series of tweets that he had the funding and investor support.

One day after Tesla CEO Elon Musk raised the idea that he may take the electric car-maker private, Ford EVP Jim Farley says his company has no issues with being public. Musk set a price of $420 a share, substantially above the stock's current trading price and Tesla's all-time closing high of $385 a share.

Musk has downplayed the power of the tweets he launches at all hours to his 22 milion Twitter followers: "My tweets are literally what I'm thinking at the moment, not carefully crafted corporate bs, which is really just banal propaganda", he said in June.

Earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced out of the blue - and on his preferred social media platform - that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share.

In that time, Tesla short-sellers - Musk's sworn enemies - may have lost more than $800m, according to estimates from financial-technology firm S3 Partners, while his 20% stake reportedly gained $851m.

"This proposal to go private would ultimately be finalized through a vote of our shareholders", Musk said in explaining the potential move.

It's unclear who Musk secured funding from. "The board has met several times over the last week and is taking the appropriate next steps to evaluate this". "With Tesla unable to take on more debt, we wonder who may fund the potential deal and end up as a new large shareholder", Jefferies said in a note. Shareholders would also have to be willing to potentially get less information about the company's performance and have less opportunity to sell their shares if it is no longer publicly traded.

Will going private solve Tesla's problems? The company has successfully tapped them for capital, and, even when it has racked up losses and consumed cash, its market value has marched higher and higher.

Tesla stock, which has been on the rise for days, skyrocketed after the tweet and ended Tuesday up 11%.

The company also remains unprofitable and going private wouldn't change that. That's a key reason why Michael Dell made a decision to list shares of Dell Technologies (DVMT) on Wall Street again after taking the company private in 2013.

Most analysts were skeptical, but some said a deal could materialize if Musk succeeded in lining up the right funding.

That's debatable. The new tax rules enacted by Congress past year could be bad news for Tesla.

He could also turn to his individual investors, who own almost 13 per cent of Tesla's shares. The statement did not address how the $420-per-share price was established.

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