UPDATE: Aug. 13, 2018, 3:38 p.m. CEST Shortly after this post was published, Elon Musk posted a note on the Tesla website, confirming that Saudi Arabia is interested in financing Tesla going private. Musk said he had a July 31 meeting with representatives of the Saudi Arabia sovereign fund and left it “with no question” that a deal could be closed.
Musk also clarified that “most of the capital required for going private would be funded by equity rather than debt,” which, he wrote, “reports that more than $70B would be needed to take Tesla private dramatically overstate the actual capital raise needed.”
Nearly a week after Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted his intention to take the company private, we still don’t know much about the funding for the endeavor — which Musk said was “secured.”
And while the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission is reportedly looking into Musk’s claims, speculation is running wild. According to a Bloomberg report, published Sunday, part of the financing for taking Tesla private might come from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Bloomberg’s report, which cites people with knowledge of PIF’s plans, says the fund is working to be a part of “any investor pool that emerges” to take Tesla private. The talks between the Saudi fund and Tesla reportedly began before Musk’s tweet on Aug. 7.
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
This is at odds with a Reuters report, published Saturday, which cited two anonymous sources claiming that PIF has no interest in financing Tesla’s bid to go private. Tesla and PIF did not comment on either story.
It’s hard to separate fact from fiction here, but the idea that PIF might at least be looking at its options for being part of the deal isn’t far fetched at all. First, PIF already owns nearly 5% of Tesla shares. Second, with $230 billion in assets and big ambitions, it is one of few entities that can actually finance Tesla going private, which might cost up to $72 billion. Finally, one of PIF’s key goals is to diversify Saudi Arabia’s wealth away from oil, and the fund already made numerous investments in technology and energy companies, including a $400 million investment in Magic Leap and a $3.5 billion investment in Uber.
On the other hand, PIF has made significant investments in a tech fund together with Japan’s Softbank. Both Reuters and Bloomberg claim that SoftBank isn’t planning to finance Tesla’s bid to go private, which makes sense given SoftBank’s $2.25 billion investment in Tesla rival General Motors this spring.
None of this really sounds like “funding secured,” but then again, we don’t know what Musk had in mind when he tweeted that. With the SEC looking into Musk’s claim, and Tesla board members reportedly meeting with financial advisers to evaluate his proposal this week, more should be revealed soon.
Read more: http://mashable.com/