So, no one believes Tesla Inc. (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk except for the people who are willing to take the company private and the advisers who are doing the job?
From the moment Musk said he had the financing to take Tesla private, those who despise him and/or his company -- but not the cars, never the cars -- have felt they finally have him, they finally have their gotcha moment.
They somehow know that the feds, whoever the feds really are, will look at his tweet and say, "That's it, we've had enough of this nonsense, Musk is out."
Today the gotcha people will have their work cut out for them because of this new tweet: "I'm excited to work with Silver Lake and Goldman Sachs as financial advisors, plus Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Munger, Toles & Olson as legal advisors on the proposal to take Tesla private."
We didn't need to wait long for a Reuters story saying that Silver Lake denies working with Musk. But it is highly unlikely, I think, that we will get a similar denial from Goldman Sachs given that Musk has banked with them in the past, including a huge bond deal. And the law firms? They aren't even allowed to say anything if he has retained them.
So, three out of four may be enough to let Musk slide, or "get away with" this one, if you are a bear.
There's another whole skein of skepticism that this tweet incites: Is this just a total "cover your tracks" tweet? When did he really start working with these firms? Was it after he mulled going private? Was it after he said he had "secured funding"? Is it all a way to be sure that he's not going to be prosecuted?
To which I say, whoa, hold your horses. I am as skeptical as most about Musk, but we need to understand the landscape of the law.
First, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may be looking into what Musk did. But the SEC looks into everything. We don't know if it is a formal investigation or an informal inquiry, but I already have heard commentators say that he will be criminally prosecuted by the Justice Department. That's crazy. We haven't even seen any charges from the SEC, let alone a referral to Justice. Further, the Saudi Public Investment Fund did just buy $2 billion of stock in the open market.
Remember, if Musk was really running out of money, like the bears endlessly insist, wouldn't he have had the company sell the shares directly to the Saudis to eliminate any near-term cash concerns if there were any? That would have crushed the shorts.
More important, the Saudi fund has set a goal of being the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, with a target of $2 trillion by 2030. It's pretty realistic that it can afford $80 billion already to do the buyout, especially because last year the fund and SoftBank partnered to raise $93 billion to invest in artificial intelligence and robotics.
So, in other words, it is entirely possible to me that a negotiator for the Saudi Public Investment Fund may have said to Musk in their most recent discussions over the $2 billion investment, "We can partner with SoftBank and take your company private and perhaps even merge it with another one of our companies, Aramco, which is all about trying to become less dependent upon oil." A car company that doesn't use oil is a real good hedge against being the largest oil producer.
No, I am not saying I like what Musk is doing, this public method of dissemination that looks like it initially was done to stymie short sellers but now has snowballed into some sort of weird reality.
But I am saying that the bears should wake up to realizing that the government most likely will not do their bidding. Consider that Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos fame stayed as CEO through five tortured years of investigations and charges only to step down when Justice decided to prosecute her for fraud. The wheels of justice grind much too slowly for the bears.
So, while you may think the guy is P.T. Barnum, you may think he is less than truthful, there is no standard about what you can and can't tweet, and only Musk and the Saudis know what was said. If the Saudis did say, though, we will fund a buyout, and Goldman nails down the financing and Wachtell and Munger give it a seal of approval, with or without a bid, I think Musk is home free.