Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLA) were boosted in Tuesday trading amidst reports that Saudi’s Public Investment Fund purchased a significant stake in the Elon Musk-led company earlier this year. The PIF’s stake is expected to comprise between 3% and 5% of Tesla’s shares, in what could be seen as yet another bold bet by Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
News of the Saudi PIF’s position in Tesla was reported by the Financial Times, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter. The position is estimated to be worth $1.7 and $2.9 billion considering Tesla’s current share price, making the Saudi Crown Prince’s fund as one of Tesla’s biggest investors. Data from Bloomberg estimates that the Saudi PIF currently stands as one of the company’s top eight shareholders.
The Saudi PIF has reportedly attempted to take a stake in Tesla for some time, with the fund approaching Elon Musk to express its interest in buying newly-issued shares of the electric car maker — an offer reportedly declined by Musk. Nevertheless, the PIF was still able to take a stake in the company in secondary markets with the assistance from JPMorgan. The FT’s sources claim that Elon Musk and Tesla are aware of the Saudi PIF’s stake in the company.
Another source who provided information to the London-based business publication also claimed that Elon Musk and the Saudi PIF have been in touch since June 2016, when the Middle Eastern fund bought a $3.5 billion stake in Uber. The date of the PIF’s purchase of TSLA stock has not been announced, but speculations suggest that the shares were bought during the Crown Prince’s US tour last March.
The PIF’s interest in Tesla is quite understandable, with the fund being linked to several sustainable energy initiatives. In his visit to the United States, Crown Prince Mohammed and SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son announced a project aiming to create the world’s largest solar power generation project, which is expected to cost around $200 billion. If any, the PIF’s stake in Tesla appears to be part of the Crown Prince’s attempts to steadily direct his country’s economy away from its reliance on fossil fuels.
The announcement of PIF’s stake in Tesla comes in the aftermath of Tesla’s Q2 2018 earnings report, when Elon Musk stated that the company does not expect to raise more equity in the near future. Despite this stance, Musk also stated that the company “could raise money” if it really needed to.
“We do not – we will not be raising any equity at any point, at least that’s – I have no expectation of doing so, do not plan to do so. For China, I think, our default plan will be to use essentially a loan from the local banks in China and fund the Gigafactory in Shanghai with local debt, essentially. And we certainly could raise money, but I think we don’t need to and we – yeah, I think, it’s better to – it is better discipline not to,” Musk said.
Tesla shareholders appear to have received the news of the Saudi PIF’s stake in the electric car maker. As of writing, Tesla stock is up 5.86%, trading at $362.64 per share.
Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.