SAN FRANCISCO – Elon Musk told a jury on Monday that he is confident he locked in financial backing from Saudi investors in 2018 to take electric car maker Tesla private, and the rocket company’s space. He was even able to use his X stock to finance the acquisition.
During his trial in San Francisco federal court, the billionaire, who said he was sleep-deprived and tired, spoke quietly and calmly during his nearly five-hour testimony.
“Just with SpaceX stock, I felt like I had the money secured,” he told jurors, referring to the aerospace company he’s also CEO of. He added that he chose not to take Tesla private because he wanted to avoid a lengthy process.
Musk tricked investors by tweeting on August 7, 2018, to “secure funding” to take Tesla private at $420 a share, claiming that “investor support has been confirmed. I am defending against the allegation that
The trial will test Musk’s propensity for disrespectful tweets and potential liability across the line.
Tesla shares surged after Musk’s 2018 tweet, but fell as it became clear that the acquisition would not happen. Investors say they lost millions of dollars as a result.
Musk told Nicholas Porritt, the investor’s attorney, that he met with representatives of the Public Investment Fund, a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., factory on July 31, 2018.
He acknowledged that the purchase price was not discussed, but said Saudi representatives made it clear they would do what was necessary to make the deal happen.
Musk said it never happened because the fund’s president, Yasir Al Rumayyan, later withdrew the commitment.
“When we met, I was very upset because he was clearly in favor of keeping Tesla private.
A lawyer for Al-Rumayyan did not immediately return a request for comment.
Politt later said in court that the documentary evidence did not support Musk’s claims about the Saudis’ original intentions, and that the minutes of the meeting gave the Saudis more insight into what Musk had in mind. He said he knew he wanted to.
Musk later testified that he sold some of his Tesla stock to raise the money to take Twitter private, so he sold SpaceX stock to raise the money to go private.
SpaceX “serves as the backbone of the US space program and is a very valuable company,” Musk testified. Turning to the jury, he added:
Musk is scheduled to continue his third day of testimony on Tuesday.
A nine-person jury will decide whether Tesla’s CEO has artificially inflated the company’s stock price by pitching the prospect of an acquisition, and if so, by how much.
Musk testified that when he tweeted about the funding, he said, “It’s not going to happen, I’m thinking about it,” and that it was his “opinion” that the funding was secured. bottom.
U.S. Judge Edward Chen ruled in May last year that Musk’s posts were false and reckless.
Musk is also being sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over his tweets, with his and Tesla’s combined settlement amounting to $40 million, requiring Tesla’s lawyers to pre-screen some of his tweets. .
The SEC had alleged that Musk rounded the offer to $419 to $420 per share. This is because Musk recently found out about “importance in marijuana culture” and thought his girlfriend would find it funny.
Musk denied that he thought so.
He began testifying on Friday, saying that while Twitter, which he bought in October, is the most democratic way to communicate, his tweets didn’t always affect Tesla stock the way he hoped. told the jury.
Defendants also include current and former Tesla directors, who Spiro said had “genuine” motives in responding to Musk’s plans.
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