Elon Musk says Tesla takeover plan doesn’t involve ‘a specific number’
When questioned directly by a federal judge on Tuesday, Elon Musk could not say exactly how much money investors were planning to invest in his 2018 proposal to take Tesla off the stock exchange.
Mr. Musk wrote on Twitter on August 7, 2018 that he had “secured funding” for the deal. But on his last day of testimony in a trial in San Francisco, he admitted that the individuals and investment funds he had discussed his plan with had not indicated the amounts they were willing to invest in. the case.
“Not a specific number,” Mr. Musk replied after the judge, Edward M. Chen, told him he had to answer “yes or no” when asked if dollar amounts had been discussed. Judge Chen asked Mr. Musk the question at least twice, stepping in after Mr. Musk did not clearly answer questions posed by an attorney for the investors suing him and Tesla, Nicholas Porritt.
When Mr. Porritt again asked if any investors had pledged specific amounts, Mr. Musk said he was open to including the large number of Tesla shares he owned in the deal. “I mean, I definitely got myself.”
Mr Musk, who testified for seven hours over three days, and his legal team argued that the funding for the deal was in fact plentiful while adding that it was difficult to find exact amounts until t be clear how much money was needed to buy out shareholders who did not want to be part of the deal.
Investors taking the case say they suffered billions of dollars in losses after Tesla’s stock rose in response to Mr. Musk’s statements about taking the company private, but then fell when the proposal came to nothing. Judge Chen has already ruled that two of Mr. Musk’s Twitter posts were false and that he was reckless in posting them. But investors must show that the misrepresentations, not other statements by Mr. Musk or other factors, caused their losses.
Mr. Musk, dressed in a dark suit, black surgical mask and combat boots, entered the courtroom and watched the jurors make their way to their seats. He tried to downplay the complainants, telling Mr. Porritt that “in my opinion, you don’t represent” most investors. Judge Chen called the remarks “inappropriate” and struck them from the court record.
Mr Musk also attempted to say that most Tesla investors are happy because the company is worth more now than it was in 2018 – another statement that Judge Chen withdrew from the court record. Two of Mr. Musk’s lawyers raised their hands and shook their heads.
During his testimony on Monday, Mr Musk claimed that he had not lied or misspoke his intention to take Tesla private, because the leaders of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund had shown interest in the deal, even if they did not. had not signed any documents committing to it or discussed it. how much they would invest. He said the “secure funding” also referred to his stake in SpaceX, the rocket company he runs, because he could have borrowed against those shares or sold some of them.
On Friday, Mr. Musk acknowledged that he had provided material information about Tesla on his Twitter account and that he had to follow the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission. But he said his social media posts don’t necessarily cause Tesla’s share price to fluctuate.
In 2018, Mr. Musk and Tesla settled a separate lawsuit with the SEC over his plan to take Tesla private. They paid fines to the SEC, and Mr. Musk agreed to resign as Tesla chairman and allow a lawyer to review certain statements about Tesla before posting them on social media.