Wall Street sees funding hurdle to Musk's plan to take Tesla private

Danny Moloshok  Reuters

Danny Moloshok Reuters

On Tuesday, Musk revealed on Twitter that he was considering privatizing the company after taking it public in 2010. A SoftBank spokesman declined to comment.

They said this "included discussion as to how being private could better serve Tesla's long-term interests".

Musk's tweets caused a flurry of activity in financial markets.

Tesla Inc.'s board confirmed it knew last week about Elon Musk's proposal to take the electric-car maker private, adding credence to the idea that this was more than a spur-of-the-moment whim from the notoriously impulsive billionaire.

The Tesla board responded to the proposal earlier Wednesday morning, indicating that it is evaluating things.


Tesla stock opened at $369.09 on Wednesday, sliding almost 3 percent from its Tuesday closing price of $379.57.

Musk mused Tesla could be bought back at $420 per share.

"Just because" Musk wants it at $420 "doesn't mean that there aren't other people who might be willing to come in with another transaction that would be more beneficial to shareholders", Pitt said. Tesla was trading around $300 per share in April 2017 when the talks reportedly fell through.

Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said Musk's statements puts Tesla under pressure to detail how it intends to proceed with the deal to go private.

FILE PHOTO: Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla, speaks at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2017.


"I'm trying to accomplish an outcome where Tesla can operate at its best, free from as much distraction and short-term thinking as possible, and where there is as little change for all of our investors, including all of our employees, as possible".

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.

Some on Wall Street shared that view.

"What does Musk mean by 'funding secured?"' asked Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein who has always been bearish on Tesla shares.

The company is still working its way out of what Musk called "production hell" at its home factory in Fremont, California, where a series of manufacturing challenges delayed the ramp-up of production of its new Model 3 sedan, on which the company's profitability rests. Musk has feuded publicly with regulators, critics, short sellers and reporters, and some analysts suggested that less transparency would be welcomed by Musk.


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.

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