August 17, 2018 / 7:55 AM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-Musk's SpaceX could help fund take-private deal for Tesla - NYT

 (Adds details from the New York Times report, background)
    Aug 17 (Reuters) - Elon Musk's rocket company, SpaceX, could
help fund a bid to take electric car company Tesla Inc         
private, the New York Times reported on Thursday, quoting people
familiar with the matter. 
    Musk startled Wall Street last week when he said in a tweet
he was considering taking the auto company private for $420 per
share and that funding was "secured." He has since said he is
searching for funds for the effort.
    Musk said on Monday that the manager of Saudi Arabia's
sovereign wealth fund had voiced support for the company going
private several times, including as recently as two weeks ago,
but also said that talks continue with the fund and other
    The New York Times report said another possibility under
consideration is that SpaceX would help bankroll the Tesla
privatization and would take an ownership stake in the carmaker,
according to people familiar with the matter.
    Musk is the CEO and controlling shareholder of the rocket
    Tesla and SpaceX did not respond when Reuters requested
comment on the matter.    
    In a wide-ranging and emotional interview with the New York
Times published late on Thursday, Musk, Tesla's chief executive,
described the difficulties over the last year for him as the
company has tried to overcome manufacturing issues with the
Model 3 sedan.
    "This past year has been the most difficult and painful year
of my career," he said. "It was excruciating."
    The loss-making company has been trying to hit production
targets, but the tweet by Musk opened up a slew of new problems
including government scrutiny and lawsuits.
    The New York Times report said efforts are underway to find
a No. 2 executive to help take some of the pressure off Musk,
people briefed on the search said.
    Musk has no plans to relinquish his dual role as chairman
and chief executive officer, he said in the interview.
    Musk said he wrote the tweet regarding taking Tesla private
as he drove himself on the way to the airport in his Tesla Model
S. He told the New York Times that no one reviewed the tweet
before he posted it.
    He said that he wanted to offer a roughly 20 percent premium
over where the stock had been recently trading, which would have
been about $419. He decided to round up to $420 - a number that
has become code for marijuana in counterculture lore, the report
    “It seemed like better karma at $420 than at $419,” he said
in the interview. "But I was not on weed, to be clear. Weed is
not helpful for productivity. There's a reason for the word
'stoned.' You just sit there like a stone on weed," he said.
    Some board members recently told Musk to lay off Twitter and
rather focus on operations at his companies, according to people
familiar with the matter, the newspaper report said. 
    During the interview, Musk emotionally described the
intensity of running his businesses. He told the newspaper that
he works 120 hours a week, sometimes at the expense of not
celebrating his own birthday or spending only a few hours at his
brother's wedding.   
    "There were times when I didn't leave the factory for three
or four days — days when I didn't go outside," he said during
the interview. "This has really come at the expense of seeing my
kids. And seeing friends."
    To help sleep, Musk sometimes takes Ambien, which concerns
some board members, since he has a tendency to conduct
late-night Twitter sessions, according to a person familiar with
the board the New York Times reported. 
    "It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien," he said.

 (Reporting by Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru and Brendan
O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier, Bernard Orr)
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