Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission have submitted a joint letter explaining their settlement for a lawsuit resulting from the Tesla CEO’s “funding secured” tweet last August. The letter, which was dated October 11, 2018, comes a week after U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan asked Musk and the SEC to justify their settlement before she approves the deal.
The CEO found himself in hot water late last month after the SEC filed a suit over tweets posted in August, when Musk announced that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share, and that he had “funding secured.” Tesla stock plunged as news of the agency’s lawsuit emerged, dropping more than 13% amidst reports that Musk allegedly rejected a settlement prepared by the SEC. Elon Musk would agree to a settlement with the SEC in the weekend that followed.
Under the terms of the settlement, Musk would be required to step down as Chairman of Tesla’s Board of Directors. The company would also appoint two new independent directors to its board. Elon Musk and Tesla Inc. would have to pay a fine of $20 million each as well, which would, in turn, be distributed to harmed investors under a court-approved process. In a statement last Thursday, Judge Nathan asked Musk and the SEC for a joint letter explaining their settlement, noting that the court needs to make a “minimal determination of whether the agreement is appropriate” before things are finalized.
The SEC noted in the joint letter that it considered multiple factors when it was determining the appropriate penalties for Musk and Tesla, from the gravity of Musk’s alleged violations to the CEO’s lack of monetary gain resulting from his “funding secured” tweet.
“In this case, the SEC considered multiple factors in determining appropriate civil penalties. These included the seriousness of the alleged violations, the market impact caused by the alleged conduct, and Defendants’ financial means, but also countervailing factors such as Defendants’ willingness to settle these actions promptly, Defendants’ apparent lack of pecuniary gain, and the limited temporal scope of the conduct.”
The agency further noted that sanctions against Elon Musk and Tesla are designed to benefit investors by putting additional governance measures in the electric car and energy company. Musk’s representatives, for their part, simply noted in the joint letter that the CEO believes a prompt resolution through the settlement is in the best interests of Tesla’s investors.
“Tesla and Mr. Musk believe that a prompt resolution of these actions through settlement is in the best interests of investors and should be approved.”
The submission of Elon Musk and the SEC’s joint letter comes amidst news that one of Tesla’s largest investors has increased its stake in the company. On Wednesday, it was revealed that T. Rowe Price Group Inc., which owned 11.93 million TSLA shares at the end of Q2 2018, increased its stake in the company in Q3. By the end of September, the firm held 17.4 million TSLA shares, making it the company’s second-largest shareholder, second only to Elon Musk. Another institutional investor, Bailey Gifford, which owns 13.2 million TSLA shares, currently stands as Tesla’s third-largest shareholder.
With Tesla’s Q3 earnings report coming in less than four weeks, T. Rowe Price’s increased stake in the electric car maker could prove to be a strategic investment for the financial firm. Tesla, after all, finished the third quarter on a strong note, delivering and producing a record number of vehicles. Less than two days before the end of the quarter, Musk even sent out a message to Tesla’s employees, urging them to work hard as the company is “very close” to profitability. Since October began, Tesla has also been showing signs that its Model 3 production ramp continues to grow stronger. Teases of an eventual international rollout for the electric car, such as an exhibit in the Paris Motor Show, further suggest that Tesla is steadily gaining its foothold in its efforts to roll out its first mass-market vehicle.
Elon Musk and the SEC’s joint letter could be read in full below.
SEC v Elon Musk – Joint Sub… by on Scribd