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Tesla Chairman Says Elon Musk Didn’t Mislead Public with Tweet About Company's Privatization in 2018

Tesla Chairman Says Elon Musk Didn’t Mislead Public with Tweet About Company's Privatization in 2018

Tesla's Chairman said that Elon Musk was not trying to mislead the public with a tweet about the company's privatization in 2018. If the facts had indicated he lied, she would have quit her post, Robyn Denholm said during the testimony.

Tesla Chairman, Robyn Denholm, testified in a securities fraud trial on Friday. She is the defendant in the lawsuit along with Elon Musk, Tesla, and other directors. Investors claim they lost money because of Musk's August 7, 2018 tweets in which he stated he could take Tesla private at $420 per share. At the time the tweets were posted in 2018, Denholm led Tesla's audit committee.

While testifying Friday, Tesla's Chairman said she would have resigned if she thought the tweets posted then contained false information. “If I believed that Elon was trying to mislead the public I would have stood down from the board,” she said, according to Reuters.

In addition, Denholm drew attention to the fact that Musk posted tweets from a personal account and not from the company's official account, and on his behalf. This means that, as a potential buyer, Musk is free to tweet about the deal, she said. In this case, Tesla's policy, which required insider disclosures to be verified by the company in advance, should not have applied.

“Because he was tweeting on behalf of himself, the policy doesn't apply,” Denholm said.

In his testimony earlier this week, Musk told jurors that he could have funded the potential deal with existing Tesla investors as well as the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF). “Funding was absolutely not an issue," Musk told the jury. "It was quite the opposite.”

Former Tesla CFO, Deepak Ahuja, who testified in court on Wednesday, said that his perception of the situation that developed between Tesla and the governor of the 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 have approached 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.

© 2023, Eva Fox | Tesmanian. All rights reserved.

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Article edited by @SmokeyShorts; follow him on Twitter

About the Author

Eva Fox

Eva Fox

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.

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