Elon Musk said he’s thinking about taking Tesla private.
Musk, the CEO and largest shareholder of the electric car maker, said on Twitter on Tuesday that he has secured private funding. He did not identify the would-be buyer or buyers.
He implied that the funding values the company at $420 a share. The stock had been worth about $342 a share before Musk’s tweet, and shares quickly jumped as high as $371.
The stock had climbed slightly earlier in the day after the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia has quietly built a big stake in Tesla.
Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. About an hour and 20 minutes after the Musk tweet, trading in Tesla stock was suspended because the company was expected to release news.
Tesla ( has )burned through cash while struggling to produce the Model 3, its lowest-priced electric car. That has driven the stock lower and raised concerns about whether Tesla will need to sell more shares to pay for expansion. Musk has insisted Tesla has no such need.
Musk has also clashed repeatedly with critics, especially investors who have taken short positions on the stock, meaning they benefit when the price falls. He clashed with analysts on a contentious call after Tesla reported earnings three months ago.
He also said that he would hold on to his nearly 20% stake in the company if it were taken private, and that he wouldn’t expect himself or any other investor to have a controlling vote after the buyout.
In subsequent tweets on Tuesday, Musk said that he hoped all current investors would stay with Tesla even if it went private. He said he would create a special fund to allow that. Fidelity, the investment firm, has such a fund for its stake in SpaceX, a separate private company also run by Musk.
Gene Munster, managing partner at Loup Ventures and a top tech analyst, said the odds that Musk will take Tesla private are about one in three. But he said the idea makes a certain amount of sense.
“Musk does not want to run a public company,” Munster wrote on his website. “His mission for Tesla (to accelerate the globe’s adoption of sustainable energy) is both grand and long-term, making it difficult to accommodate investors quarterly expectations.”
At $420 per share, it would cost about $71 billion to take Tesla private. Before Musk’s tweet, Tesla had a market value of $58 billion, already higher than that of General Motors ( or )Ford (, even though those companies are significantly larger and more profitable. )
In fact, Tesla has turned a narrow profit in only two quarters since it became a public company in 2010. Musk has vowed that the company will start turning a regular profit in the second half of this year.
In a 2013 report, the SEC said companies can use social media outlets to announce important information, so long as they comply with regulations and “investors have been alerted about which social media will be used to disseminate such information.”
The SEC issued that report after Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, used a Facebook post to congratulate Netflix’s chief content officer on record-breaking viewership. Netflix stock moved higher as a result.
Tesla said in a regulatory filing in 2013 that investors interested in keeping up with Tesla should follow Musk’s account.
The SEC declined comment on Musk’s tweet.
Musk has a history of outrageous behavior on Twitter.
On April 1, amid rising market concerns about a cash crunch at Tesla, he tweeted an email announcing that Tesla would have to file for bankruptcy. The tweet was apparently an April Fool’s joke.
Musk also faced intense public criticism after he suggested in a tweet that one of the rescuers of the Thai soccer team trapped in a cave was a pedophile.
After Musk, the next largest shareholders in Tesla are the mutual fund giants T. Rowe Price and Fidelity, with stakes of more than 9% and 8%, respectively, according to Thomas Reuters Eikon.
Scottish money manager Baillie Gifford, which recently urged Musk to focus less on tweeting and more on running the business, is the fourth-largest shareholder, with a nearly 8% stake. Chinese tech giant Tencent owns almost 5%.
James Anderson, a Baillie Gifford fund manager who recently called out Musk’s tweeting in an interview with Bloomberg, had no comment about Musk’s tweets on Tuesday. Fidelity and T. Rowe Price also declined comment.
— CNNMoney’s Donna Borak contributed to this report.
CNNMoney (New York) First published August 7, 2018: 1:03 PM ET