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Is Saudi Arabia Preparing To Buy Tesla?

Elon Musk wants to take Tesla private. He needs investors. Guess who stepped up?

Last week we learned Tesla CEO Elon Musk is hatching a plan to take the electric automaker private. It’s not a done deal just yet, but Musk isn’t known for saying something, especially on Twitter, and not following through. Why take Tesla private? “Basically, I'm trying to accomplish an outcome where Tesla can operate at its best, free from as much distraction and short-term thinking as possible, and where there is as little change for all of our investors, including all of our employees, as possible,” Musk said in a statement.

Fair enough, but what investors has he lined up who are willing to pay $420 a share? Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, that’s who.

According to Bloomberg, the Saudi Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, which already recently took a stake in Tesla just below 5 percent, is highly interested in becoming a part of Musk’s privatization plans. In another previous tweet, Musk stated that funding had been secured, but that may have gotten him into some legal trouble with the US Securities and Exchange Commission due to possible share-price manipulation. Two investors have already sued Musk for that very reason.

However, that does not appear to be stopping Musk’s plan from moving forward, hence the Saudi’s interest. But one of the drawbacks to taking Tesla private, and the Saudis are fully aware of this, is the staggering $82 billion price tag. Musk, who currently owns 20 percent of the company, said he doesn’t foresee his stake changing, so that leaves more than $60 billion that’d be required to buy Tesla from the current shareholders. But why is the Saudi Public Investment Fund so interested in Tesla as opposed to more conventional investors? Because this is not the typical investment situation. Any potential investor not only needs to be patient in regards to seeing a return, but they must also be “strategic-looking.”

Basically, they wouldn’t just be betting on Tesla as an automaker, but also the entire future of the EV industry to an extent. It also needs to be noted that Musk has been considering taking Tesla private again for at least a year or so. He supposedly held some early potential investment discussions with interested parties, but nothing materialized. The Saudi’s fund, however, had already begun talks with Musk prior to his August 7 tweet. But what’s really fascinating about the Saudi’s interest in Tesla is that if they were to invest, they’d essentially be hedging against oil. Saudi Arabia is, after all, the world’s biggest crude oil producer.

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