Musk says Silver Lake, Goldman advising on taking Tesla private

(Reuters) – Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk  yesterday tweeted that he would work with buyout firm Silver Lake and investment bank Goldman Sachs as financial advisers on a proposal to take private the electric car maker.

But a source said Silver Lake was offering its assistance to Musk without compensation and had not been hired as a financial adviser in an official capacity. Moreover, Silver Lake is not currently discussing participating in the deal as an investor, the source said. Silver Lake declined to comment.

Musk, who is still looking for funding for the plan, also said law firms Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Munger, Tolles & Olson would be legal advisers on the plan.

Musk shocked markets last week with the tweeted announcement that he was considering taking Tesla private for $420 a share, a price that valued Tesla at more than $70 billion, and that he had “funding secured.”

What exactly Musk had intended by saying “secured” has emerged as a potential legal and regulatory minefield for the Silicon Valley billionaire after his unorthodox disclosure.

No investors have stepped forward publicly as being involved, and Musk now faces investor lawsuits claiming securities fraud and a reported SEC probe into the tweets.

Goldman and the two law firms were not immediately available for comment.

The chief executive of the electric car company said earlier on Monday that the manager of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund had voiced support for the company going private several times, including as recently as two weeks ago, but also said that talks continue with the fund and other investors.

Musk said he is also working on figuring out what share of investors will likely roll their stake into a new private company, and by extension exactly how much capital he needs to buy remaining investors out.

Tesla shares rose 0.26 percent to $356.41. They had closed at $376.57 on Tuesday after jumping 11 percent on Musk’s announcement.

“I left the July 31st meeting (with the Saudi fund) with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving,” Musk said.

“This is why I referred to ‘funding secured’ in the August 7th announcement.”

The Saudi fund over nearly two years had approached him repeatedly about taking the company private, Musk said, and the latest meeting came after it took a nearly 5 percent stake in Tesla.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) manages more than $230 billion in assets, but about 65 percent of that is stakes in large Saudi companies and most of the rest has been committed in overseas deals such as funding commitments to Blackstone Group LP’s U.S. infrastructure fund or SoftBank Group Corp’s Vision Fund.

The Saudi fund intends to sell its $70 billion stake in Saudi Basic Industries to oil giant Aramco, which could free up funds for new deals, but that sale may take months to conclude.

Yasir Othman al-Rumayyan, managing director of the PIF, referred Reuters to the corporate communications team, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk said that since his Twitter post on the possibility of a deal the managing director of the Saudi fund had expressed support for proceeding subject to financial and other due diligence.

PIF officials have said in the past that decisions at the sovereign wealth fund are made with care, emphasizing corporate governance. The PIF board is headed by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Musk on Monday said he was talking to other potential investors but did not provide any details on the exact source of funding.

Meanwhile, Musk faces scrutiny of his tweet on secured funding.

 

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