Sometimes Genius Looks Like You’re Just Making It Up As You Go Along

Elon Musk’s totally-well-thought-out plan to take Tesla private maybe involves Goldman and Silver Lake and the Saudis, or maybe not.
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To the lesser humans he’s forced to endureevery day, it appears that Elon Musk is rather desperately grasping at straws to put together a plausible-looking post-hoc cover-up for his ill-advised tweet last week that Tesla had all but gone private already. For example, the Saudis—major Tesla shareholders already, sitting on a quarter-trillion dollars in oil money and eager to diversify away from black gold—looked like the obvious lie to put out there when the SEC started getting sniffy. And it still kinda does!

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Elon Musk told investors this week that “obviously, the Saudi sovereign fund has more than enough capital needed” to finance taking Tesla private…. But it is not that simple….

“They could handle part of taking Tesla private, but not necessarily a large part of it and certainly not all of it,” a banker at a major Gulf firm operating in Saudi Arabia said.

That’s fine, because Musk has the best in the business working on the plan already. Maybe?

The electric-vehicle maker’s chief executive said in a tweet late Monday that he was “excited to work with” as advisers investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and investment firm Silver Lake, two blue-chip names in the world of deals…. But on Tuesday, Mr. Musk and Goldman executives were still haggling about the terms of any engagement, according to people familiar with the matter.

Silver Lake is working with Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder and chief executive, as he scrambles to take the electric carmaker private, The New York Times reported, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter. The firm is not being paid for its role; instead, it hopes to participate in whatever deal comes together, something that seems far from certain at this point.

Sure, all of this looks like frantic plugging of holes in the dam to stave off an inevitable deluge, even to those mere mortals most closely associated with the Bond villain come to life.

Members of Tesla’s board are scrambling to control a chief executive who some directors think is out of control…. In recent days, according to people familiar with the matter, some of his fellow board members delivered a stern message: Stop tweeting.

Mr. Musk hasn’t heeded that advice….

While it’s standard for boards to retain lawyers to counsel them on complicated matters, Tesla’s outside directors have hired two law firms to represent them….

Some members of the board have grown alarmed by what they see as Mr. Musk’s erratic behavior, according to three people familiar with some directors’ thinking. Directors were blindsided last week when Mr. Musk claimed on Twitter that he had “funding secured” for a possible deal to convert Tesla from a publicly traded company into a private one.

No matter: Musk is playing multi-dimensional chess with himself and the universe, and everyone else—the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Goldman Sachs, Silver Lake, David Einhorn and his own board—is just along for the ride. They might not know it yet, but they’ll play the parts assigned to them.

Saudi fund may only play minor part in Musk’s $72 billion Tesla plan: bankers [Reuters]
Elon Musk Tweets Another Surprise, Saying Goldman and Silver Lake Are Tesla Advisers [WSJ]
A Tesla Take-Private Bid Would Be More of the Same for Silver Lake. Sort of. [DealBook]
Elon Musk Sends Tesla Board Into Damage Control Mode [DealBook]

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