Tesla Board Wants More Information From Elon Musk on Going Private – Stock Price Sinks Again

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Aug 10, 2018
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Tesla’s board of directors hasn’t heard anything from Elon Musk in regards to his cryptic Tuesday tweet that claimed “funding was secured” for a multi-billion buyout of stock to take the company private. If you haven’t been keeping up with all things Musk and Company then head over here for our coverage of Tuesday’s tweet.

Musk would need over $50 billion, counting his already owned 20 percent stake, to take Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) private. This is quite the hefty chunk of financing considering that Tesla’s bonds are already junk-rated.

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Tesla board is scrambling with zero information

Elon has told the board absolutely nothing about where his funding is coming from.

Understandably the board wants information on who this mystery financier could be. In the same Tuesday article on Elon’s privatization tweet, we also covered a bit of news that was overshadowed that same day – a Saudi foreign wealth fund purchased a roughly 5 percent stake in the company for $2 billion. It’s not crazy to think Elon might have the necessary support come out of the Middle East.

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However, that’s pure speculation and it’s strange that Tesla’s own board would be in the dark on this matter considering Elon has brought the issue into a few board meetings to discuss how it might play out should they decide to go that route.

According to a report by Reuters, the board is quickly trying to mobilize financial advisors from investment banks to assist in looking at a formal review of Musk’s proposal – a scenario in which Elon Musk would be forced to recuse himself as chair of the board.

Adding to the circus is the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision has begun probing Tesla about Musk’s tweet. Elon could wind up in trouble if he had no factual basis for making the claim “funding secured”. Thus far he hasn’t shown an ounce of proof that he has access to $52 billion (based on the $420 per share in the tweet below) that would be needed to execute his plan.

Another angle to this saga is an impending debt obligation Tesla has in the form of $920 million in convertible bonds. These bonds convert at roughly $360 per share and they mature in early December – should TSLA trade north of that figure then holders would simply convert their bonds into equity (shares) which they could liquidate on the market and pocket any gains. Should shares be south of $360 come December then Tesla will be forking out nearly a billion dollars to pay for these.

Many have speculated that Elon’s tweet was a (highly illegal) move to boost the stock price in a move to avoid paying for the bonds. Those efforts, whether real or pure speculation, have failed.

Tesla stock has sunk two days in a row and closed today at $355.49, a few dollars short of the bonds’ conversion price of $360.

Musk has frequently complained about short interest dynamics as it pertains to his company and lamented Tuesday about the fact that Tesla is often the most shorted company on Wall Street. In an ironic twist, short interest briefly fell after Tuesday’s spike, but has now recovered and is actually at an even higher level than it was Tuesday.

As of yesterday, almost 35 million Tesla shares were sold short, making it again the most shorted stock in the United States. Short sellers took a $1.3 billion paper loss on Tuesday but have recouped as much as $1 billion since then. Current short interest is hovering around 27 percent of Tesla’s total float.

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