SEC Subpoenas Tesla About CEO's Buyout Plans

Getty Images  Jason Merritt

Getty Images Jason Merritt

The maverick billionaire and CEO of Tesla tweeted last week that he was considering taking his company private - a move that has caught the attention of the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Wall Street Journal reported last Wednesday that the SEC had made an inquiry into Tesla about whether one of Musk's tweets regarding the possibility of taking the company private was truthful. There are also four lawsuits filed againts Tesla and Musk for misleading investors. On Wednesday, news of a Tesla subpoena hit the market, served by the only and only SEC.

Musk also tweeted on Monday he was working with Goldman Sachs and private equity firm Silver Lake as financial advisers.

In reference to Tripp's allegations, a Tesla spokewoman in an emailed statement told Green Car Reports: "These claims are false and Mr. Tripp does not even have personal knowledge about the safety claims that he is making".

Musk on Monday explained in a blog post that his statements about financing were based on his conversations with Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and other investors.

While some have suggested Musk's comments were flippant, a formal investigation by the SEC could prove troublesome for the company, whose share price rocketed 11 percent the day Musk tweeted about the funding (it dipped 4 percent with this latest news).

Tesla shares down 8 percent after Musk's freakish interview
He said his reference to having secured funding referred to a potential investment by Saudi Arabia's government investment fund. Elon says that, for time being, he's not going anywhere or leaving his roles as Tesla's chairman and its top executive.

Bankers familiar with the PIF said on Tuesday they had seen no sign yet of it preparing to commit to a Tesla deal. Now, some may be wondering what the big deal is.

Analysts estimated the deal would require up to US$50 billion.

Martin Tripp, who Tesla fired after accusing him of industrial sabotage, has spent the better part of the past month waging a campaign against the company. Or did Elon Musk just get himself into a tough position (once again) for no reason?

Tesla said the committee consists only of independent directors: Brad Buss, Robyn Denholm and Linda Johnson Rice.

One director, Steve Jurvetson, is now on leave of absence.

As announced, Musk plans to take Tesla private and shelter it from short sellers or shareholder public pressure.

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