When Elon Musk tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share with funding secured, he was banking on a cash injection from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to make it happen.
Taking Tesla private would require a multi-billion investment. Musk surmised that about two-thirds of Tesla shareholders would hold onto their stock if the company were to go private. Buying out one-third of shareholders at $420 a share would cost the PIF about $23.6 billion, it has been estimated – a sizable investment by any reasonable measure. It’s understood the PIF is looking to modernize its portfolio, though, hoping to diversify its investments and rely less on oil. Unfortunately for Tesla, the fund may have found a way to do this that is much cheaper than paying for Tesla’s transition from public to private.
According to Reuters, the PIF is currently in talks to make an investment in privately held American electric automaker Lucid Motors. The deal is rumored to kick off with an investment of $500 million, followed by two subsequent $250 million investments that hinge on Lucid reaching preset production milestones. If a deal is reached, it would give the PIF majority ownership in Lucid.
An investment in Lucid could allow the PIF to diversify its portfolio without spending billions of dollars. The PIF is believed to have limited resources due to several recent major investments, making the $1 billion Lucid deal more realistic for the fund than the Tesla deal. Reuters reports the Lucid deal is still being laid out and may not go through, however.
Lucid Motors was founded as Atieva in 2007 by former Tesla board member Bernard Tse and former Oracle Group executive Sam Weng. The company unveiled a prototype for what will be its first production model, the Lucid Air, in 2016. The Air gained some notoriety after a specially prepared test vehicle hit 235 mph at the Transportation Research Center in Ohio, a feat that was achieved thanks to its 1,000 hp electric powertrain. Lucid has yet to put the $100,000 Air into production and hasn’t sold any vehicles, but it just may be able to get the ball rolling with a little extra capital from the PIF.
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