Monday, 22 October, 2018

Musk says Saudi fund pushed for two years to take Tesla private

Revenge of the Electric Car premiere Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster Revenge of the Electric Car premiere Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster
Cristina Norman | 13 August, 2018, 18:24

Elon Musk has outlined his plan to take Tesla private and said he discussed financing the deal with backing from Saudi Arabia. Musk said he had a July 31 meeting with representatives of the Saudi Arabia sovereign fund and left it "with no question" that a deal could be closed.

Musk defended his privatization announcement via the aforementioned tweets and email as "the right thing to do" in the interest of public disclosure.

Musk wrote that he made the August 7 announcement because he had talked to large investors about his desire to take the company private.

In a letter to employees on Tuesday, Musk suggested a choice for shareholders of selling their shares for $420 each or remaining investors in a private Tesla.

He wrote that in the blog and the August 7 tweet that he was speaking for himself as a potential bidder for the company.

The potential transaction will cost a jaw-dropping $82 billion, with Musk hoping to avoid having one or two large stakeholders in a company. Musk and SoftBank Group's Masayoshi Son held talks a year ago that touched on taking Tesla private, two people with knowledge of the discussions have said.

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.

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. During the meeting, the Managing Director of the fund expressed regret that I had not moved forward previously on a going private transaction with them, and he strongly expressed his support for funding a going private transaction for Tesla at this time.

"They first met with me at the beginning of 2017 to express this interest because of the important need to diversify away from oil", Musk wrote. With the SEC looking into Musk's claim, and Tesla board members reportedly meeting with financial advisers to evaluate his proposal this week, more should be revealed soon.

The transaction would be structured with equity so as not to burden Tesla with crushing debt, Musk added. While the entrepreneur owns 20 percent of Tesla, more than $60 billion would be needed to buy the business from public shareholders. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is examining whether the tweet was meant to be factual, according to a person familiar with the matter, and at least two investors have sued Musk and Tesla alleging share-price manipulation. I will now continue to talk with investors, and I have engaged advisors to investigate a range of potential structures and options.

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