Doubts about Elon Musk’s ability to take Tesla Inc. private mounted across Wall Street on Thursday, driving the stock down as much as 4 percent in what’s shaping up to be the worst rout in a month.
The stock slipped to $356.66 in late morning trading, well below the $420 at which Musk said shareholders would be bought out. It’s now dropped on back-to-back days after having jumped 11 percent on Tuesday, when Musk vowed that he had “funding secured” for a spectacular $82 billion deal.
Since that initial tweet, though, he has offered no evidence to back up the statement. Nor has anyone stepped forward publicly — or privately — to say they’re behind the plan. People with or close to 15 financial institutions and technology firms who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they weren’t aware of financing having been locked in before Musk’s tweet.
“I don’t really understand the idea of what was suggested in the potential for them to go private,” Dick Weil, CEO of Janus Henderson Group, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “That’s obviously an incredibly large valuation to somehow take into the private market.”
All of which could be problematic as the Securities and Exchange Commission starts investigating the matter. Regulators have asked the company if what Musk tweeted was factual and why such a disclosure was made via social media rather than in a filing, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. Judith Burns, an SEC spokeswoman, declined to comment. Tesla also declined to comment.
“When Musk tweeted this, was he saying this was something that was definitely going to happen? Something that might happen?” said Ira Matetsky, a partner at Ganfer Shore Leeds & Zauderer in New York. “How would a reasonable investor interpret that and was it consistent with the facts as they existed at the time?”