Elon Musk said in testimony on Monday that he was certain Saudi financiers would support his plan to take Tesla Inc. private in 2018, but that the fund later changed its mind.
Musk said at a trial in San Francisco federal court that he met with representatives of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, on July 31, 2018, at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory.
Musk confirmed that he did not discuss a takeover price with the Saudi fund representatives but claimed that they made it clear they would do whatever was necessary to complete an acquisition. “PIF unequivocally wanted to take Tesla private,” he testified.
Later, Musk claimed that the fund governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, had changed his mind about his earlier promise to take Tesla private.
Requests for comments from Al-lawyers Rumayyan were answered after a period of time.
The investor’s attorney testified before the court that written evidence contradicts Musk’s assertion that the Saudi fund made a promise to him and that the Saudis’ interest in learning more about Musk’s concept was evident in the minutes of a meeting between Musk and the Saudis.
The SEC had claimed that Musk had made the alleged buyout offer of $419 per share.
When Musk tweeted on August 7, 2018, claiming he had “financing secured” to take Tesla private at $420 per share and that “investor support is confirmed,” the billionaire is defending himself against accusations that he misled investors.
The trial explores whether Musk, the second-richest person in the world, can be held accountable for transgressing the law, given his propensity for using Twitter to express his occasionally irreverent opinions.
Following Musk’s tweets, Tesla’s stock price rose but then dropped when it became evident that the purchase would not go through.
Whether the Tesla CEO artificially boosted the company’s share price by praising the buyout’s prospects and, if so, by how much will be decided by a jury of nine.
Last May, U.S. Judge Edward Chen found Musk’s post to be careless and dishonest.
However, Musk claimed in his hearing on Monday that he “felt funding was secured” by SpaceX stock alone and that he thought he could have sold enough shares of his rocket business SpaceX to finance a buyout.
The tweets also led to Musk being sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which resulted in a $40 million settlement for him and Tesla, as well as the condition that sure of his tweets be pre-screened by a Tesla lawyer.
Musk allegedly raised the purported buyout bid to $420 per share from $419 because he had just learned about the higher amount’s “importance in marijuana culture” and believed his girlfriend would find it amusing. The SEC had claimed that Musk had made the alleged buyout offer of $419 per share.