Elon Musk tweeted Tuesday that he wants Tesla to become a privately traded company, saying it would alleviate the “enormous pressure” on the company from Wall Street investors for short-term quarterly profit, according to CNN.
He even said he had lined up the necessary funding to do so, pricing shares at $420, despite analysts saying the company does not fit the profile of a company that can afford the tens of billions in debt necessary for a deal to go private.
In an open letter to employees posted on Tesla’s website, Musk wrote:
“As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders,” adding that “there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company.”
The move would require approval from shareholders, but notably, Tesla stock ended the day up 11 percent, although there had also been a slight increase earlier that day following reports that Saudi Arabia was building a stake in the company.
Musk said that he hopes current investors will stick with the company, and that he would create a fund to help facilitate that. He also said he would keep his roughly 20 percent stake in the company.
The high cost of producing the Model 3, Tesla’s most affordable offering, has forced down stock prices and led to speculation that the company will need to sell shares, though Musk has said this won’t be necessary.
Often, Musk has conflicted with critics and investors, and tech analyst Gene Munster explained on his website:
“Musk does not want to run a public company…his mission for Tesla (to accelerate the globe’s adoption of sustainable energy) is both grand and long-term, making it difficult to accommodate investors quarterly expectations.”
However, Munster estimated that there is only a one in three chance Tesla will actually go through with the plan.
Tesla has only made a net profit in two quarters since going public eight years ago, though Musk has committed to regularly turning a profit in the second half of 2018.
The move would require the largest leveraged buyout in history – at a value of $420 per share, the company would have an enterprise value almost $20 billion higher than its stock market value of $63 billion on Tuesday.
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