Tesla stock trading halted after Musk teases taking company private

Jermaine Castillo
August 8, 2018

He did not identify the would-be buyer or buyers. At $420 a share, Tesla would have an enterprise value of about $82 billion including debt.

A buyout at US$420 per share probably won't let Musk reap any benefit from the US$2.6b stock option grant he received this year.

When the tweet-sized bombshell hit, Tesla's stock was already trading higher thanks to reports that a Saudi investment firm had amassed a 3 to 5 percent stake in Tesla.

Tesla did not immediate respond to requests for comment. "Funding secured", he said.

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Tesla has burned through cash while struggling to produce the Model 3, its lowest-priced electric auto.

Short-sellers, who had been saddled with sharp losses earlier this month after Tesla shares soared following quarterly results, were now $2.69 billion in the red for the year, according to S3 data.

The unusual step taken early Tuesday afternoon came shortly after Musk dropped a bombshell on his Twitter account by announcing he had lined up the financing to buy all of Tesla's stock at $420 per share. Musk owns almost 20% of the company.

At $420 per share, it would cost about $71 billion to take Tesla private. He said wild swings in the stock price are a "major distraction" to workers and that being public "puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term". Investors saw it as a vote of confidence that the Silicon Valley company could meet its ambitious growth plans and sent the stock up over 7% to an intraday high of $371.15.

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Musk said back in June the v9.0 would be the release to include the full self-driving features to make Teslas autonomous.

It's also unclear whether the tweet could get Musk in trouble with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Musk has a history of outrageous behavior on Twitter. His tweets didn't really explain why he wanted to do that, but a new email explains why. That turned out to be an April Fools joke.

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

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Gene Munster, the managing partner of Loup Ventures, said Tuesday that that he estimated "there is a 1 in 3 chance he can actually pull this off and bring Tesla private" because the higher share price "may not be high enough to incentivize existing shareholders to support the sale". "Funding secured", Musk tweeted, following up with "good morning" and a smiley emoji.

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