Years After Going Public, Elon Musk Wants To Take Tesla Private

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

Asked on Twitter whether Musk would continue to be CEO under such a scenario, he replied there would be "no change".

"Musk does not want to run a public company", said Gene Munster of Loup Ventures, as Tesla's ambitious mission makes it "difficult to accommodate investors' quarterly expectations".

As a direct result of Musk's $420 tweet, share values started fluctuating.

Despite its challenges, Tesla has remained a favourite among many investors, partly due to their faith in Musk, who made his initial fortune as a co-founder of PayPal and also is the CEO of a trail-blazing aerospace company, SpaceX, that's already private.

Musk owns almost 20 percent of the company. It would require a shareholder vote, Musk said. He said in his letter to employees that he did not seek to expand his ownership. That's worth about $1.7 billion to $2.9 billion at Tesla's current share price.

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"Our guess is there is a one-in-three chance he can actually pull this off and bring Tesla private", Munster said.

Factoring in $US8.8 billion ($11.9 billion) in debt, Musk's ganja-friendly target price to go private would value the company at around $US80 billion ($107.8 billion).

Musk, who has depicted the quest to build up electric cars as a crucial environmental and economic objective, said he viewed going public as "the best past forward", but that a final decision had not been made and that decision ultimately depended on shareholder support.

Musk said he will give shareholders a choice: either remain investors in a private Tesla, or sell their stock for $420 per share - a 20 percent premium over the price at the time ofthe company's recent quarterly earnings call. Gerber suggested the financier could be coming from Saudi Arabia, following a report by The Financial Times that Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund - which is overseen by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman - has reportedly invested heavily in Tesla, building up a stake between 3% to 5%.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk?

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Such foreign sources of capital would be subject to scrutiny by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which looks closely at deals for potential national security risks. Regulators temporarily halted trading as pending news from the company swirled.

Elon now owns about 20 percent of Tesla and so he would need something like $50 billion in additional capital to fully privatize the company, along with a shareholder vote of "yes" to the move.

Musk's tweet isn't a clear violation of SEC rules, but it could be if it was explicitly meant to boost Tesla's price.

Despite the unconventional method of disclosing such information, analysts took Musk at his word. Tesla trading resumed at 3:45pm, with the price closing at $379.57.

Tesla has been public since it filed an IPO in 2010.

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BALLSY BUYOUT. But a buyout (acquiring a controlling interest in Tesla) would cost a spectacular $72 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. If Mr. Musk hasn't lined up the financing he claimed, he could be accused of trying to drive up Tesla's stock to make the company's many naysayers suffer.

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