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Tesla going private (TSLA): the Saudis are in or out depending on who you ask

In the latest update of the developing saga of Tesla’s attempt to go private, conflicting reports suggest that CEO Elon Musk may or may not be seeking funding from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund for the buyout deal.

As we discussed in the last episode of the Electrek podcast, the rumors first started after Musk made the announcement that he was planning to take Tesla private right after it was revealed that Saudi Arabia took a stake worth close to 5% in Tesla.

The rumors ran wild with some suggesting that Musk was taking Tesla private to avoid a hostile takeover while others said that the CEO was actually working with the Saudis to secure the money for the take-private move at $420 per share.

Now Bloomberg reports that the Saudi investment fund is indeed in talks to be part of the deal based on anonymous sources:

“The Saudi Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund is working to be part of any investor pool that emerges to take Tesla private, people with knowledge of the fund’s plans told Bloomberg News on Sunday. The fund, which recently built a stake just shy of 5 percent, is exploring how it can be involved, the people said on condition of anonymity.”

On the other hand and at the same time, Reuters is reporting that they are not in:

“Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has shown no interest so far in financing Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk’s proposed $72 billion deal to take the U.S. electric car maker private, despite acquiring a minority stake in the company this year, two sources familiar with the matter said.”

Tesla’s board is reportedly currently evaluating Musk’s proposal and it would have to submit it for a vote to shareholders before the company can start the process of going private.

Electrek’s Take

The media reports are getting a little silly here and it muddies the water. It’s hard to read the Saudis’ intentions and they are not commenting themselves.

It looks like they took a stake in Tesla worth just under 5%, which is the limit in order not to have to disclose the stake to the SEC and other investors.

So why are they keeping this underwrap and what’s their involvement with a take-private deal if any?

I am just as much in the dark as anybody else here. I wouldn’t jump on board the conspiracy train about oil interests trying the derail Tesla just yet, but some clarifications of their involvement would certainly be appreciated by the community.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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