Economy

Another hairpin turn for Tesla as stock dives on SEC charge

Another hairpin turn for Tesla as stock dives on SEC charge

Musk, 47, walked away at the last minute from a settlement with the SEC that would have required him to give up key leadership roles at the company for two years and pay a nominal fine, according to reports on Friday.

Share value in Tesla is down more than 11.6 percent on the day, trading at $271.75 as of this writing.

Tesla was off about 11 per cent at $273.60 following a bombshell announcement by the US Securities and Exchange Commission late Thursday that it was charging Musk for making "false and misleading" statements on Twitter on a now-aborted effort to take the electric auto maker private.

The regulator charged that Musk "knew or was reckless in not knowing" that his tweets were false and misleading and that the chief executive officer tweeted the figure to impress his girlfriend, the rapper Grimes.

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"There's a ton of risk for the stock because the Tesla story is all about continuing to gain access to the capital markets", Whiston said.

The suit alleges that Musk lied to investors when he announced on social media on August 7, he tweeted, "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420".

Elon Musk is being sued by the SEC for securities violations, but it appears this entire situation could have been avoided on two distinct opportunities. On Friday, he tapped Chris Clark, a USA attorney who successfully defended Mark Cuban from insider-trading charges, to head up his defense. And some billionaires, especially ones who are named Elon Musk, maybe shouldn't be in charge of public companies.

The announcement caused the share price to spike and Musk later retracted his statement. On Thursday, he released a statement calling the SEC lawsuit "unjustified" and said, "I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors". If you recall, early Model 3 production fell far short of Tesla's projections as the company struggled to work around any number of manufacturing bottlenecks. Based on the leak, it seems the program will be running throughout the next year or so; it's unclear when Tesla plans to enable the fully autonomous capability. One prominent Silicon Valley investor, who spoke on condition of anonymity to offer his candid assessment of the company, said Tesla faced a "total vacuum" of capability and confidence if Musk was kicked out.

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Tesla might be able to thrive without Musk if it could replace him with a more experienced automotive or technology veteran who has been at the helm of a profitable company, said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book. And the SEC's current allegations that Musk hadn't ironed out the details don't change that, Gorman said.

'Despite this, we think the company will survive, ' he said.

Musk had not discussed the $420 figure with any potential funding source before he broached the subject to Tesla's board in an August 2 email, the SEC said.

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