Tesla boss Elon Musk has suggested via Twitter that he is “considering” taking the electric car firm private. In his tweet, Mr Musk said he could buy outstanding shares in the firm for $420 each, around a fifth higher than the share’s current price. “Funding secured”, the tweet added, offering no further details on where the funds would come from or when. The firm’s shares climbed after the tweet, but Nasdaq later suspended trading pending an announcement. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Unlike publicly listed companies, private firms do not have to share details of their finances and operations. They are also shielded from the ups and downs of the stock market.
If Tesla were taken private at $420 per share, it would be one of the largest such transactions in history – worth more than $80bn, including the firm’s debt. At first glance, it was not clear how seriously to take Mr Musk’s messages. While Mr Musk has previously discussed the drawbacks of being a public company, he has also used his Twitter account in ways that surprised investors. On April Fool’s Day, Mr Musk, who owns almost 20% of the company, joked on Twitter about Tesla going bankrupt. In follow-up tweets on Tuesday, Mr Musk said taking the company private would not lead to a single dominant shareholder, as investors could opt to retain their holdings. He planned to hold onto his shares and hoped to continue as chief executive, he added.
The tweets came after a separate report in the Financial Times that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund had taken a 3%-5% stake in Tesla, a holding worth at least $1.9bn. The article said the state fund, overseen by the powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, had been interested in buying newly issued shares. The report, combined with Mr Musk’s tweets, stirred further speculation about Tesla, which is spending heavily as it ramps up production of its latest car, the Model 3. The firm reported a record loss in its most recent quarter, and some analysts say it will need to raise money in order to survive. However, Mr Musk has said he has no plans to do so and promised that the firm will be profitable in the second half of the year, barring any unforeseen events.