Musk: Saudi Arabia backed Tesla going private, then backed down
Tesla founder Elon Musk told the court that he was convinced that Saudi investors supported Tesla going private in 2018 but later backed down.
Musk confirmed during a federal court hearing in San Francisco on Monday to attorney Nicholas Porritt, representing the Saudi side, that he met on July 31, 2018 with representatives of the Saudi Public Investment Fund at Tesla’s Fremont plant. , California.
He acknowledged that he had not discussed the purchase price with the Saudis, but they had made it clear, he said, that they would make every effort necessary to reach a deal.
In his testimony, Musk said, “The Public Investment Fund clearly wanted to turn Tesla into a private company.”
He added that Saudi fund manager Yasser Al-Rumayan later backtracked on a commitment to take Tesla private.
“I was very disappointed that he was so vocal about his support for the privatization of Tesla when we met and then seemed to back off,” Musk said.
Al-Rumayyan’s lawyers did not immediately comment on Musk’s remarks.
But the investors’ attorney told the court that Musk’s claims that the Saudi fund was committed to any commitment were not backed up by any document, and that the meeting between the Saudis and Musk showed that the Saudis wanted to know more about Musk’s plan.
Notably, Elon Musk is facing a lawsuit for defrauding investors when he tweeted on August 7, 2018 that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 a share, and that “investor support is guaranteed”.
Investors say they lost millions of dollars because of Musk’s tweets as Tesla’s share price rose after Musk’s tweets and then fell when it became clear the acquisition deal had evaporated.
Musk insists before the court that his tweet did not “talk about the inevitability of the event, but rather I believe it”, adding that it is his personal opinion that the financing of the deal is guaranteed.