Tesla: Musk's tweet a bridge too far?

The Tesla logo is seen outside of their showroom in Washington DC.					Saul Loeb AFP  Getty Images
The Tesla logo is seen outside of their showroom in Washington DC. Saul Loeb AFP Getty Images
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15 August, 2018

Kalman Isaacs, one of the investors who filed suit Friday in a San Francisco court, claimed Musk's tweets were "designed to completely decimate short-sellers".

While Tesla's board released a statement on Wednesday saying Musk discussed with it last week the prospect of going private, Musk has yet to tell it where the backing for a buyout deal would come from, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Here are some of the key events in Tesla Inc's turbulent history as a public company.

But there is one major factor that gives this rumor some credibility: the fact that Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, known to many as simply MbS, is very keen on his country shedding its oil revenue dependency.

On August 1, when Tesla stock was climbing after the company's quarterly earnings release, Musk said on Twitter that he would send one of Tesla's biggest short sellers, David Einhorn, president of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, a box of short shorts "to comfort him through this hard time", referring to Greenlight Capital's big quarterly loss... mainly due to Tesla's stock boom. According to data provider IHS Markit, $13 billion worth of Tesla shares have been loaned to investors for bets that their value will plummet. Musk and SoftBank Group's Masayoshi Son held talks previous year that touched on taking Tesla private, two people with knowledge of the discussions have said. But if the agency determines one is necessary, it will start by looking at the tweet that has put Musk under intense scrutiny, according to Harvey Pitt, who was the SEC's chairman from 2001 to 2003.

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Musk, who envisions sending tourists to the Moon and slashing travel times between major cities with advanced trains, is respected in Silicon Valley, where he could tap venture capital. That would allow the shorts to buy back the stock at a lower price, return the shares to the lender, and pocket the difference. However, Isaacs lost money on his deal. Musk had tweeted that Tesla could go private for $420 per share.

The complaint filed by Kalman Isaacs said Musk's alleged false and misleading tweets on August 7 about a possible going-private transaction, and Tesla's failure to correct them, were a "nuclear attack" on short-sellers that inflated Tesla's stock price and violated federal securities laws.

Tesla declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

"We wonder whether surge production techniques to support self-congratulatory tweets are economically efficient ways of ramping production, or whether customers will be happy with the quality of a vehicle rush through production to prove a point to short sellers", the letter said. Tesla is the most shorted US stock.


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