Saudi fund expressed support for taking Tesla private: Musk

Virginia Carson
August 13, 2018

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) has shown no interest so far in financing Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk's proposed $72 billion deal to take the US electric vehicle maker private, despite acquiring a minority stake in the company this year, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Recently, after the Saudi fund bought nearly 5% of Tesla stock through the public markets, they reached out to ask for another meeting.

Musk published a blog post confirming a report that Saudi Arabia's Public Interest Fund would be the previously unknown party bankrolling the move to re-privatize the company - and revealing that his tweet last week claiming "funding secured" was merely an assumption on his part.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) is known for its technology investments, including the $45 billion it has spent in SoftBank Group Corp's (9984.T) Vision Fund. It wasn't immediately clear how much the fund would invest in Tesla.

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The lawsuits filed by Isaacs and William Chamberlain said Musk's and Tesla's conduct artificially inflated Tesla's stock price and violated federal securities laws.

Therefore, reports that more than $70B would be needed to take Tesla private dramatically overstate the actual capital raise needed. At least two investors have sued Musk and Tesla alleging share-price manipulation. While the entrepreneur owns 20 percent of Tesla, more than $60 billion would be needed to buy the business from public shareholders. They are the ones who believed in Tesla when no one else did and they are the ones who most believe in our future.

I left the July 31st meeting with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving.

"I continue to have discussions with the Saudi fund, and I also am having discussions with a number of other investors, which is something that I always planned to do since I would like for Tesla to continue to have a broad investor base", Musk wrote.

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Elon Musk stunned investors last week with his tweet.

Musk and advisers are seeking a wide pool of investors to back a potential deal.

Tesla had burned through $ 739.5 million in cash in the second quarter and Musk had assured that the company will post a profit in the next quarter.

Musk said that after discussions on the deal last week with both outside directors and the full board it had been agreed that the next step was for him to consult with major shareholders. Sources said he is canvassing other potential investors including asset managers.

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The Saudi government is planning to turn the PIF into a US$2 trillion powerhouse to help diversify the kingdom's oil-dependent economy.

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