Musk says Saudi sovereign fund is Tesla’s primary source of buyback funding

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Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said on Monday that he is in talks with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) about taking Tesla private, but admitted that the exact sources of funding have not been confirmed.

Musk said in a blog post that the PIF's managing director had expressed "strong support for funding a going private transaction for Tesla" at a meeting on 31 July, leading Musk to conclude that there was no doubt a deal would take place imminently.

He said talks to take Tesla private between the two entities have been ongoing for almost two years.

Speculation on which investors might have the capacity to take Tesla private has been rife over the last few days, following Musk's tweet last Tuesday that he had secured the "funding" necessary to take Tesla private at a share price of $420 (£329).

The most prominent rumour to date centred around the PIF, after it upped its stake in Tesla to five per cent the day before Musk's tweet.

Musk did not comment on the lawsuits he and Tesla are currently facing, over shareholder concerns that his tweet was designed to hurt short-sellers of Tesla stock. Reports in the US say Musk's tweet is also being probed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Read more: Public or private? Here's everything you need to know about Tesla's dilemma

Following last week's tweet, Musk said the PIF has continued to express its support for taking Tesla private subject to "financial and other due diligence" as well as its internal review process.

However, Musk said it would be "premature" to provide any critical details of the proposed nature and source of the funding.

He added:

I continue to have discussions with the Saudi fund, and I also am having discussions with a number of other investors, which is something that I always planned to do since I would like for Tesla to continue to have a broad investor base.

It is appropriate to complete those discussions before presenting a detailed proposal to an independent board committee.

Read more: Tesla and Elon Musk hit by fresh lawsuits over stock rigging claims

He also said that previous figures circulated regarding the amount of capital required to take Tesla private, thought to be around $70bn, "dramatically overstate the actual capital raise needed".

Musk believes approximately two-thirds of Tesla's current shareholder base would choose to remain as investors in the private entity via a special fund, and therefore the buyback would fall closer to the $20bn mark.

Tesla's share price jumped more than two per cent on the news, as markets opened in the US.

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