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Matt Levine

Musk Gets Away With Mischief

Also Innisfree, Activision and adverse possession.

In August 2018, Elon Musk, the chief executive officer and largest shareholder of Tesla Inc., tweeted: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” As has by now been pretty exhaustively documented, he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share, but he did not have funding secured. He ended up not pursuing the transaction, ostensibly because shareholders didn’t like it, though also possibly because the transaction structure he had in mind — one in which Tesla somehow became “private” but kept all of its existing shareholders? — was not actually possible, or perhaps because he got bored with the idea and moved on to his next provocation.

If he had decided to push ahead with the idea, would he have been able to raise the necessary $60 billion or so to finance the deal? I dunno, maybe? At the time that seemed like a lot of money. Tesla’s market capitalization last Friday was $601 billion, though, so in hindsight buying it — or financing Musk’s plan to buy it — in 2018 would have worked out well. And Musk does seem to be pretty good at raising money. And, at the time of his tweet, he had had preliminary conversations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund about financing the deal. They had enough money to do it. It’s not unreasonable to think that he could have gotten the money.