Musk’s Tweet on Taking Tesla Private May Indicate He Has `Significant’ Funding Lined Up

Tesla (TSLA) Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted on Tuesday that he is considering taking the company private at $420 a share, a 22% premium to its closing price the day before, and given his demeanor it seems there may be “significant” funding already lined up, RBC Capital Markets said in a note to clients.

“Elon’s tone and messaging regarding a potential transaction leads us to believe that there could be significant outside funding lined up,” RBC analysts said. “We note an unconfirmed FT article indicates that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund took a 3% to 5% stake on the public markets, it was also noted they approached Tesla about new shares. In our view, sovereign funds (broadly), cash rich tech companies, Chinese sources and large VCs could all be potential candidates to provide funding.”

Musk’s tweet was followed by a letter to employees that detailed the rationale behind taking the company private. The structure we be to create a special fund to enable shareholders to either keep their stake in the company or cash out at $420.

RBC said it believes there’s substance to the news and in prior controversial votes shareholders have always sided with Musk. The success of the proposal will depend on who’s onboard, RBC said.

“The ability to convince shareholders to stay involved is likely critical to the success of Tesla going private, which would be the biggest buyout in history (over $70 billion),” the analysts said. “Musk owns 20% of the shares, so all else equal, they may need to get committed financing for the remaining 80% (about $57 billion). Given Tesla’s financials, we don’t believe lenders would sign up to support the deal.”

RBC said its sector perform rating is based on the idea that while Tesla is a “very innovative and disruptive company” with strong growth potential, it’s also a classic stock that’s difficult to value given the investment decision is qualitative rather than quantitative, the bank said.

Performance in the near- to medium-term will be determined by how well the company delivers on promises.

“To that end, we believe that Tesla is essentially learning how to become a manufacturing company on the fly,” RBC said. “While we don’t have meaningful reason to doubt that Tesla can eventually achieve its targets, doing so in a timely manner without some growing pains could prove challenging. Failure to hit near-term objectives may not impact the long-term view but could hold back the stock or provide a more favorable risk-reward entry point.”