Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Tesla’s Big Question: Better or Worse Off as Private Company

Tesla’s Big Question: Better or Worse Off as Private Company

Elon Musk and Masayoshi Son held talks previous year about SoftBank Group Corp. investing in Tesla Inc., including potentially taking the electric carmaker private, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

An acquisition of Palo Alto, California-based Tesla by overseas investors would likely trigger a national-security review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. The panel, which has stepped up its scrutiny and blocked some deals lately, could impose conditions, including limits on control of the company and information sharing.

Tesla's CEO also laid out what he envisions as the ideal path for going private.

Musk has been under intense pressure this year to turn his money-losing, debt-laden company into a profitable higher-volume manufacturer, a prospect that has sent Tesla's valuation higher than that of General Motors Co.

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The board members said they were "taking the appropriate next steps" to evaluate the proposal.

Mr. Musk on Tuesday proposed taking Tesla private at $420 a share, about 11% higher than the day's closing stock price.

Musk holds "about 20 percent of the company now", the statement said, and made clear that he doesn't see that changing whether Tesla is private or public.

Follow Tesla's stock price in real-time here.

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Musk has promised a sustained net profit starting in the third quarter. The company already has a $2 billion investment from Saudi Arabia's sovereign fund as well as Tencent, which took a 5 percent stake in 2017. Among these issues, short-sellers have especially posed a continuous problem for Tesla, and it's no surprise Musk would like to put an end to the roller coaster that their actions can cause, with him highlighting the view that Tesla is one of most shorted companies on Wall Street.

Taking Tesla private would also free Musk from his tumultuous relationship with Wall Street as a whole, which had been consuming a significant portion of his time as well as a significant amount of all news surrounding the automaker. But I didn't walk away from it thinking, .

The Tesla board responded to the proposal earlier Wednesday morning, indicating that it is evaluating things. Many initially thought it was Elon Musk's attempt at a bad joke about marijuana, because "420" has always been associated with pot.

But his nine-word tweet during the middle of trading Tuesday - "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420". But they did not reveal who or what institution Musk may have been referring to when he posted "funding secured".

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