In a stunning move today the CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) tweeted out to his twenty two million followers that he was "considering taking Tesla private", similar to the move made by Michael Dell and Dell Computers circa 2013.
Musk is Tesla's largest shareholder, with an approximately 20 percent stake valued at about $12 billion, according to S&P Capital IQ.
Musk "has been running Tesla like a private company with publicly traded stock anyway so this deal makes some sense", Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey said.
Gains following the tweet added to upward movement on the stock after the Financial Times reported that a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund had built a stake of between three and five percent in the company. He cited SpaceX as an example and said it is "far more operationally efficient" because it is a private company.
The firm's shares climbed more than 6% after the tweet, but the Nasdaq later halted trading pending an announcement.
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Musk has every incentive to try to either drive up the stock price or eliminate the need for public reporting on sales and finances by taking the company private. The buyout is good for a 20 percent premium over the current market price of the stock and would value the company at over $70 billion dollars at current numbers of outstanding shares.
In an interview with Bloomberg News in January 2015, he spoke of the benefits of running his closely held rocket company Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and his frustrations with having taken Tesla public in June 2010.
Tesla shareholder Quint Tatro, managing director of Joule Financial, praised the idea as "brilliant", adding that "Musk is exhausted of dealing with all the challenges of being 'public'".
He has also had a prickly relationship with Wall Street, apologising last week to equity analysts after refusing to answer questions on a May investor call.
"This proposal to go private would ultimately be finalized through a vote of our shareholders", Musk explained.
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Mr Musk has previously discussed the drawbacks of being a public company, saying shareholder demands often produce short-term thinking. Being a public company means being subjected to wild swings in stock prices (it even spiked earlier today after his tweet talking about taking the company private), and such volatility can be a "major distraction" for both Tesla's workforce and shareholders. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the likelihood that it will go private, potential timing for doing so, or the funding sources Musk referred to.
The immediate question was whether Musk was joking. "Funding secured." At 2:08 p.m., trading of Tesla shares was halted at $367.25, up 7.4 percent over Monday's close.
"Details, structure, participants and how the valuation has been determined remain to be seen".
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