A former Tesla CFO said in court that everything indicated that the Saudi PIF was ready to make a deal to take the company private in 2018. He said that the governor of the fund assured him that PIF “has sufficient funding to take Tesla private.”
The court hearing on the case of Elon Musk's tweet about taking Tesla private at a price of $420 per share in 2018 continues. On Wednesday, former CFO Deepak Ahuja testified there, revealing a few details about the events that took place before his ex-boss tweeted about the privatization.
Asked by an investor lawyer, Ahuja said that prior to Musk's tweet, he had not seen a draft of the post or a preview of an earlier email in which his boss proposed setting the take-private share price at $420. He expressed the opinion that Musk chose the wrong time to publish his post, as it was during the trading session. “Going private is material information,” said Ahuja “the preference is not to raise material information.” However, Tesla's former CFO noted that Musk was writing from his personal Twitter account and did not make statements on behalf of the company, which is subject to regulatory restrictions.
Ahuja's testimony showed that his perception of the situation that developed between Tesla and the governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) Yasir Al-Rumayyan was the same as that of Musk himself. In his opinion, the PIF “unequivocally” agreed to help fund a multibillion-dollar private deal—even though there was no specific funding amount in writing.
The former CFO spoke about his discussions with the governor of the PIF and how Al-Rumayyan assured him that the fund “has sufficient funding to take Tesla private.” If additional investment was required, the PIF would approach the Emiratis to see if they wanted to buy Tesla shares, Ahuja said.
“My sense was that Yasir and the Saudi PIF fund were willing to do this transaction,” he said.
Ahuja was so confident that the deal would go through that he did not even question the content of the tweet when Musk posted it. He said that he would have spoken up to Tesla’s board if he had thought Musk had said anything inaccurate in his initial Aug. 7 tweet.
“To me, the content of this tweet was consistent with everything I had known or heard until then,” he testified.
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Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.