Tesla CEO Musk taunts short sellers amid legal scrutiny

13 Août, 2018, 09:17 | Auteur: Auguste Feret

The sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia is exploring a way to be a part of taking Tesla private, a Bloomberg report states.

Investors and analysts viewed PIF as a natural financing partner. The Saudi fund hasn't made any firm decisions on whether to increase its stake, or by how much, but talks are ongoing, sources told Bloomberg.

In turn, the fund bought almost US$2 billion (NZ$3 billion) worth of Tesla shares on the market with the help of an investment bank, building up a stake just short of 5 per cent in the company.

Am considering taking Tesla private at $420.

The company has invested US$3.5b in Uber in June 2016, teamed up with Softbank for a US$93b tech fund in May, and pledged to invest about US$1b in Virgin Group's space companies, Virgin Galactic in October.

Pressure is mounting on Musk to produce details of his financing plan.

Reuters reported on August 11 that the PIF has shown no interest so far in financing Musk's proposed deal, while CNBC said on August 9 that Musk previously talked with the Saudi fund about a take-private deal, citing one person familiar with the matter. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

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According to Reuters, the separate lawsuits by Kalman Isaacs and William Chamberlain accuse Tesla and Musk of issuing statements that are in violation of securities law, artificially boosting the stock price, and putting a squeeze on short sellers.

Tesla is facing a make-or-break moment in its eight-year history as a public company, as competition from European automakers is poised to intensify with new electric vehicles from Mercedes, Audi, BMW and other rivals.

Musk argued any such move would protect the company from swings in the stock market, and improve Tesla's ability to think long term, as opposed to chasing quarterly targets. Discussions began before the controversial August 7 tweet by Musk, who is Tesla's co-founder and chief executive officer, saying he was weighing a plan to take the company private.

Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia was founded to invest on behalf of the government.

Musk has also said he would be looking to keep his ownership of Tesla at around 20 percent in a buyout deal, and that a special goal vehicle, like the one that exists at his aerospace company SpaceX, would allow Tesla shareholders to remain invested if they so choose.

However, the deal structure would come with big logistical and legal challenges when it comes to buying out smaller shareholders, analysts have said.

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