Elon Musk told Saudi investors in 2018 that he didn’t own enough of Tesla Inc. to take it private by himself, according to a transcript of the conversation disclosed in a proposed court filing Monday.
Musk said he owned around 19% at the time, and possibly 25% if he exercised some options, according to the transcript, which was presented by plaintiffs in a securities fraud trial in San Francisco. The billionaire would need more than 50% to take the company private as reported by Barrons News.
The investors contend Musk’s tweets in 2018 that he had “funding secured” to take the electric carmaker private amounted to lies that cost them big losses from big price swings before the plan was abandoned.
Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, told the judge in court Monday that the July 31 transcript of a conversation with representatives of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund couldn’t be immediately verified. He called the transcript “the most critical document in the case” and “the most contested.”
One would have thought that, after the Twitter debacle, Musk would have learned that “a signed document” can cost you $44 billion.
Musk also maintained that “a signed document is neither here nor there” when pressed by Porritt over whether he provided additional info to PIF following the July 2018 meeting about the plan to go private.
“If they say they’re going to do something, they do it.”
Prior to the break, Musk told plaintiffs’ attorney Nicholas Porritt that he had dinner in 2017 with friend and confidant Larry Ellison — as well as Goldman Sachs’s Dan Dees and SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son — and Ellison was very supportive of going private.
Meanwhile, Tesla shares are rising and are now up more than 6% on the session as Musk defends himself.