Electric-vehicle pioneer Tesla is not going private, despite CEO Elon Musk's tweet from earlier this month claiming funding had been "secured" for the transaction.
Instead, Musk now believes "the better path is for Tesla to remain public" according to a statement released late Friday night.
In a separate statement, also released late Friday night, six of Tesla’s directors expressed support for Musk and the need to focus on "ensuring Tesla’s operational success." The board also dissolved the special committee it had formed to assess Musk's proposal to take the company private.
The independent directors noted, "Elon communicated to the board that after having done this work and considered all factors, he believes the better path is to no longer pursue a transaction for taking Tesla private."
Musk worked with investment bankers and transaction experts Silver Lake, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to assess the potential of a go-private deal and to appraise investor reaction, according to his statement on Friday.
He came to these conclusions:
Most of Tesla’s shareholders believe that Tesla is "better off as a public company."
Many institutional shareholders have compliance issues on investments in a private company.
There is "no proven path" for most retail investors to own shares if Tesla were private.
Musk said that going private would be "even more time-consuming and distracting than initially anticipated" at a time when the company urgently needs to ramp its Model 3 production and achieve profitability. He added that even though the transaction was not going to occur, there was "more than enough funding to take Tesla private."
Musk met with Tesla’s board of directors on Thursday to let them know that "the better path is for Tesla to remain public." The board agreed, according to the CEO.
The CEO concluded his "Staying Public" statement by saying that leading Tesla as a public company is "a privilege."
As of this writing, Tesla had not filed any 8-K forms with the SEC concerning the go-private effort. And though this matter seems to be settled between Musk and the board, it remains to be seen the whether the SEC feels it is settled.
Updated Tesla privatization timeline
Week of July 30: Musk informs Tesla's board of directors of the idea of going private, and that he has "funding secured."
July 31: Musk meets with the the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund.
August 7: Musk lets the world know via Twitter that he's looking to shift his $60 billion market cap EV pioneer from a public to private company. The mysterious tweet sent out that Tuesday morning read: "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured."
This would be the biggest leveraged buyout in history — with a value of about $82 billion counting debt. Musk said that the deal was contingent on a shareholder vote but added that "investor support is confirmed."
August 8: The San Francisco office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reached out to Tesla about Musk's Twitter claim that funding was "secured," according to The Wall Street Journal. The SEC is also looking into why Musk's claim about potentially taking Tesla private was made on Twitter instead of in an 8-K regulatory document. This is not Tesla's first brush with the SEC — previous claims regarding sales and manufacturing targets have triggered the agency's interest, as well.
Six of Tesla's eight board members released a very brief statement: "Last week, Elon opened a discussion with the board about taking the company private. This included discussion as to how being private could better serve Tesla’s long-term interests, and also addressed the funding for this to occur. The board has met several times over the last week and is taking the appropriate next steps to evaluate this."
August 9: The SEC is "intensifying" its inquiry into Tesla, according to Bloomberg.
Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has shown no indication it is interested in financing Musk's proposed deal, according to Reuters.
August 12: According to Bloomberg, the Saudis are back to considering an investment in a private Tesla.
August 14: Tesla's board created a committee to assess Musk’s proposal.
August 24: Musk announces that the company is not going private. The board disbands its committee assessing the go-private process.
August 26: Bloomberg reports that Tesla's VP of Communications, Sarah O'Brien, is leaving the company. Her departure was reportedly planned before the privatization saga.