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Tesla CEO Drops Latest Bombshell With $72B Buyout Proposal

Musk has long raged against short sellers and mentioned his desire to be rid of them as one of his reasons for taking Tesla private

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'Tearful' Musk aims for $25,000 Tesla car for the masses. (VOA)
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk is considering leading a buyout of the electric car maker in a stunning move that would end the maverick company’s eight-year history trading on the stock market.

In his typically unorthodox fashion, the eccentric Musk dropped his bombshell on his Twitter account, which he has used as a platform for pranks, vitriol and now for a proposal to pull off one of the biggest buyouts in U.S. history.

Musk got the ball rolling Tuesday after the stock market had already been open more than three hours with a tweet announcing he might buy all of Tesla’s stock at $420 per share with no further details.

At that price, the buyout would cost nearly $72 billion, based on Tesla’s outstanding stock as of July 27, but it’s unlikely the deal would cost that much because Musk owns a roughly 20 percent stake in the Palo Alto, California, company. He also said he intends to give Tesla’s existing shareholders the option of retaining a stake in the company through a special fund, if they want.

“Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured,” Musk wrote in his first tweet, following up with “good morning” and a smiley emoji.

His tweet came hours after the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund had built a significant stake in Tesla Inc., but it was unclear if that was the funding Musk was referring to. The Financial Times, citing unnamed people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund had built a stake of between 3 and 5 percent of Telsa’s shares.

Musk’s announcement was initially met with widespread skepticism, with many people connecting the proposed $420-per-share offer with 420 being a common slang term for marijuana.

Musk also previously used his Twitter account to joke that Tesla was going bankrupt in an April Fool’s Day tweet and his stability was called into question last month after he called a British diver who helped rescue children from a Thailand cave a pedophile. That baseless tweet was quickly deleted and Musk apologized to the diver.

Elon Musk
Musk got the ball rolling Tuesday after the stock market had already been open more than three hours with a tweet announcing he might buy all of Tesla’s stock at $420 per share with no further details. (Wikimedia Commons)

The confusion caused by Musk’s Tuesday announcement via Twitter also prompted regulators of the Nasdaq stock market to temporarily suspend trading in Tesla’s stock.

Musk later brought some clarity to the situation in an email to Tesla employees that was also posted on Tesla’s blog. Trading in Tesla’s stock resumed shortly after, and the stock climbed 11 percent to $379.57. Musk’s offer is 9 percent higher than Tesla’s peak closing price of $385 reached nearly a year ago.

By taking Tesla private, Musk believes that the company will be able to sharpen its long-term focus of revolutionizing an automobile industry dominated by fuel-combustion vehicles without having to cater to investors’ fixation on how the business is faring from one quarter to the next.

Making money has proven elusive for Tesla while it has been investing in electric car technology and ramping up production of its vehicle, including a sedan with a starting price of $35,000 to appeal to a broader audience.

The company has only posted a quarterly profit twice in its history and has never made money during an entire calendar year, something that Musk has been trying to change by cutting costs, including recent mass layoffs that trimmed Tesla’s workforce by 9 percent. Tesla lost another $717.5 million in its most recent quarter.

Also Read: Why Elon Musk has Suddenly Gone Ballistic on Twitter

Despite its challenges, Tesla has remained a favorite among many investors, partly because of 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.

But another substantial segment of investors are convinced Tesla is doomed to fail and are betting on the company’s eventual demise by becoming “short sellers” of its stock. Short sellers borrow shares from other investors and then immediately sell them on the premise that they will be able to buy them back at a lower price later to replace they stock they borrowed.

Musk has long raged against short sellers and mentioned his desire to be rid of them as one of his reasons for taking Tesla private. “Being public means that there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company,” he wrote. (VOA)

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James Murdoch Isn’t Taking Over Tesla: Elon Musk

Musk is still the CEO of Tesla.

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Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. Wikimedia.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has denied that James Murdoch, the younger son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, is going to replace him at electric car maker Tesla.

Reacting to a Financial Times report that claimed James Murdoch was going to join Tesla as Chairman, Musk tweeted on Thursday that this was not true.

Tesla CEO Elon musk
Elon Musk agrees to step down as Chairman (VOA)

“This is incorrect,” tweeted Musk, reacting to the report.

James Murdoch, who serves as a director on Tesla’s board, is set to end his innings as 21st Century Fox’s CEO.

Media reports have also thrown names like former Vice President Al Gore and Jim McNerney of Boeing as potential candidates to lead Tesla.

tesla, maezawa, elon musk
Tesla has become the most valuable American carmaker, with its stock worth more than $50 billion. Pixabay

Coming under pressure from his lawyers and investors of Tesla, the tech billionaire on September 29 agreed to step down as Tesla Chairman for three years and paid a $20 million fine, in a deal with the US stock market regulatory authority, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to resolve securities fraud charges.

Also Read: Tesla Launches a New Programme That Lets You Send Images Into Space

Tesla paid another $20 million to the SEC, despite not being charged with fraud.

Musk is still the CEO of Tesla. (IANS)