Musk testifies “I had no ill motive” in trial over tweets about Tesla acquisitions

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SAN FRANCISCO (TUSEN SF/TUSEN) — During his third day on the stand in a class action lawsuit brought by Tesla investors who allege he misled them with a tweet about a deal that never happened, Elon Musk testified Tuesday that his intentions with the tweet had been to let his shareholders know he was considering a buyout.

The 51-year-old billionaire — under friendly questioning from his own attorney, Alex Spiro — resumed his staunch defense at a trial that centered on two tweets from 2018 that indicated he had lined up the money to take Tesla private.

While Spiro gently prodded him, Musk told the nine-member jury that he had only stated that he was “considering” a Tesla acquisition, but never promised a deal would be made. But, Musk said, he felt it was important to alert investors that Tesla is about to end its eight-year run as a publicly traded company.

“I had no bad motive,” Musk said. “It was my intention to do the right thing for all shareholders.”

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While approached the day before by a lawyer representing Tesla shareholders, Musk was at times belligerent, outraged and agitated. Throughout it all, Musk has maintained he received funding for what would have been a $72 billion buyout of Tesla in 2018 meetings with Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund representatives, though no specific funding amount or price was forthcoming. was discussed.

When he received texts and emails indicating that a Saudi fund representative never pledged the money for a full buyout of Tesla, Musk claimed it was nothing more than the words of someone trying to back out on an earlier promise made in private conversations.

While Musk was on the stand Tuesday, his disdain was for the lawyers who filed a lawsuit in August 2018 on behalf of Tesla shareholders who owned stock in the company for a period of 10 days.

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“I don’t believe they represent shareholders,” Musk scoffed as he was reprimanded by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen, who ordered the comment removed from the record.

In the class action lawsuit, Tesla investors allege that Musk, who has since acquired Twitter for a $44 billion buyout, misled them with a tweet saying funding had been secured to take his electric car company off the grid. stock market – for $420 per share. But the deal never came close, and the tweet resulted in a $40 million settlement with securities regulators.

Musk has previously claimed he entered into the settlement under duress and claims he never wavered in his belief that he had the money for a deal.

He pointed Tuesday to his nearly 30-year track record as an entrepreneur who has never had trouble raising money with a litany of previous ventures, including PayPal and Neuralink, in addition to Tesla and SpaceX.

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“It’s no problem for me to raise money,” Musk said with a chuckle. “I’ve done a good job for investors, and if you do a good job for investors, they’ll give you money.”

The trial hinges on whether a pair of tweets Musk posted on Aug. 7, 2018, damaged Tesla shareholders during a 10-day period prior to Musk’s admission that the buyout he envisioned would not happen. . The statements led to Musk and Tesla reaching the $40 million settlement without admitting any wrongdoing.

In the first of 2018’s tweets, Musk stated that “funding had been secured” for what would have been a $72 billion — or $420 per share — buyout of Tesla at a time when the electric car maker was still struggling with production problems and was worth much less than it is now. Musk followed up with another tweet a few hours later suggesting a deal was imminent.

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