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Elon Musk’s fortune takes a $1.5-billion hit after SEC lawsuit

30 September 2018

Even still, Musk told Tesla's Board of Directors that he had an offer to take Tesla private at $420 per share, in part, according to the SEC's complaint, "because he had recently learned about the number [420]'s significance in marijuana culture and thought his girlfriend 'would find it amusing'".

Tesla's 5-year credit default swap TSLA5YUSAX=MG hit its highest price ever on Friday, the day after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it was suing Musk and pushing for his ouster. If the SEC comes back with a similar offer, Musk would do well to consider it. As the complaint notes, he sent the tweet on a Tuesday, in the middle of the trading day, causing Tesla's stock price to jump six percent as he waved away concerns on his Twitter that what he was planning to do is basically impossible. Instead, drama surrounding Musk is once again taking center stage.

Mr Musk - chairman and chief executive of Tesla - is seen as so important to the company's future that his departure could result in shares falling further.

The company reportedly needs workers with a Tesla vehicle to share between 300 and 400 hours of driving feedback with employees working on Autopilot.

Under the terms of the deal, Musk and Tesla would have had to pay a nominal fine, and he would not have had to admit any guilt. The agency said he made a series of "false and misleading" tweets about potentially taking Tesla private last month.

The Department of Justice is now investigating whether to file criminal charges as well.

"But what has kept Tesla's stock hoisted is the perpetual tweets and promises from Elon Musk, promises that he hasn't met", Johnson said.

Watch General Motors and Tesla trade here in real time. The SEC said the company had no way to determine if his tweets contained information that must be disclosed in corporate filings, or if they contained complete and accurate information.

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"People buy Teslas because of Elon Musk", the investor said. The company itself wasn't targeted in the lawsuit.

The SEC's challenge is to "appropriately discipline Musk while not harming Tesla's shareholders", Grundfest said. "They're under financial pressure to turn things around and facing an onslaught of new competitors".

He will be able to continue as the CEO of Tesla, but can not be chairman again for three years.

Incidentally, Musk in a blog post earlier this month said that Tesla is "about to have the most incredible quarter in our history, building and delivering more than twice as many cars as we did last quarter".

"The fundamentals of Tesla have been horrendous, I don't think anybody would deny that. Shareholders want him to stay on as the visionary". The company has huge ambitions to disrupt not just the auto industry but the energy markets by selling large batteries to utilities.

At Friday's close, GM had a market capitalization of about $47.5 billion, according to Bloomberg data, while Tesla's was down to $45.17 billion.

Given that Tesla has mostly lost money throughout its history and has had trouble meeting its own production targets while burning through cash, the company's stock could be in danger of cratering without Musk's aura.

Elon Musk’s fortune takes a $1.5-billion hit after SEC lawsuit