Tesla’s been a public company since its IPO over eight years ago, but on Tuesday, CEO Elon Musk said that he was “considering” making the company private again at a whopping $420 per share. Is he serious? Who can say.
What would this mean, exactly? Less public scrutiny, for one thing. There are lots of questions though, beginning with: Where is the financing coming from?
Tesla’s current market capitalization is around $61 billion, but an offer at $420 a share values the company at around $71 billion, according to CNBC. (Update: Bloomberg says the valuation would be more like $82 billion including debt.)
Much of the Jalopnik office is currently arguing whether or not Elon is joking putting the figure at $420 per share. The real joke is capitalism itself.
Whether or not Musk is serious, his tweet caused immediate and real percussions on Tesla’s stock, which was sent soaring by the news, already boosted on Tuesday by a report that a Saudi fund had invested $2 billion into the company.
It’s worth noting that Musk has publicly mused about taking Tesla private before, saying in a 2017 Rolling Stone profile:
“I wish we could be private with Tesla,” Musk murmurs as they exit. “It actually makes us less efficient to be a public company.”
Jalopnik has reached out to Tesla for comment and will update when we hear back.
Update, 2:05 p.m.: Musk had some more to say on Twitter:
Musk is tweeting through it, which was enough for Tesla shares to be halted shortly after 2 p.m.
Shortly after that, Musk said he would remain as CEO if the company went private.
Update, 2:35 p.m.: Hmm.
Update, 2:46 p.m.: An SEC spokesperson declined to comment in an email to Jalopnik, but the SEC said in 2013 that companies can use social media to announce “key information” as long as investors know which accounts it will be coming from.
The SEC’s report of investigation confirms that Regulation FD applies to social media and other emerging means of communication used by public companies the same way it applies to company websites. The SEC issued guidance in 2008 clarifying that websites can serve as an effective means for disseminating information to investors if they’ve been made aware that’s where to look for it. Today’s report clarifies that company communications made through social media channels could constitute selective disclosures and, therefore, require careful Regulation FD analysis.
“One set of shareholders should not be able to get a jump on other shareholders just because the company is selectively disclosing important information,” said George Canellos, Acting Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Most social media are perfectly suitable methods for communicating with investors, but not if the access is restricted or if investors don’t know that’s where they need to turn to get the latest news.”
Regulation FD requires companies to distribute material information in a manner reasonably designed to get that information out to the general public broadly and non-exclusively. It is intended to ensure that all investors have the ability to gain access to material information at the same time.