First American News LLC: Raleigh, NC: Elon Musk says his 2018 tweet about planning to take Tesla Inc. private was “entirely truthful” and that investors who claim the missive was fraudulent are wrong.
Lawyers for the billionaire chief executive officer of the electric-car maker said in a court filing Tuesday that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund had indeed agreed to support his attempt to take the company private.
“Elon Musk’s August 7, 2018 tweet informing the public that he was considering taking Tesla private was entirely truthful,” the CEO’s attorney Alex Spiro said in a heavily redacted filing. “Mr. Musk was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share. Funding was secured. There was investor support.”
The tweet roiled Tesla’s shares and led the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to sue Musk for fraud. The SEC said in its September 2018 complaint that the CEO had never discussed a going-private transaction at $420 a share with any potential funding source, nor had he confirmed support from investors.
Musk and Tesla settled with the agency, agreeing to pay $40 million in fines and to name a new chairman. Musk has repeatedly attacked and taunted the agency since then.
Shareholders claim in a class-action suit pending in federal court in San Francisco that Musk’s tweets spurred wild swings in the company’s share price and caused billions of dollars in losses.
The investors are seeking a judge’s ruling — ahead of a trial set for May 31 — that the tweets were false statements. A hearing is scheduled in March.