Report: Saudis Not Interested in Tesla Buyout

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has been linked to a major Tesla stock buyout, but new info suggests it isn't happening.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced last week that he was thinking of making the automaker a privately-traded company to ease pressure from investors, via a mass buyback of Tesla stock from shareholders. The necessary cash to complete this buyout was described by Musk as “secure,” and reports over the weekend pinned the financier of the deal as Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), a sovereign investment group with five percent ownership of the company. A new report says the PIF isn’t as interested in the buyout as previously thought, however.

The PIF was reported Sunday by Bloomberg to be evaluating an increase in ownership of the company, with the intent of betting against Saudi Arabia’s own top export of oil. A follow-up report by Reuters on Monday contradicted the news, with a source claiming that PIF was uninterested in helping Musk with his plan of a mass stock buyback.

PIF would reportedly consult with technology holding company Softbank (in which it has at least $45 billion invested) before even making such a move. Softbank’s $2.2 billion investment into General Motors’s “Cruise” automated mobility service allegedly precludes investment in Tesla, with the group opting to support GM over the fledgling electric carmaker.

It would make sense for Softbank to advise its PIF backer to make similar investments, which may influence PIF’s reported stance of disinterest toward helping Musk achieve a privatized Tesla. As Musk pointed out last week, stock prices rose, approaching his buyback offer of $420 per share, which would limit the attractiveness of a buyout offer for many stockholders. Whether this alleged PIF buyout were to go through may have little effect on whether an attempted mass buyback would even be successful.