Last week, reports emerged that JPMorgan, one of the United States’ biggest banks, has sued Tesla for $162 million over stock warrants that are linked to CEO Elon Musk’s “funding secured” tweet from August 2018. The lawsuit seems to have been taken in stride by the Tesla CEO, who responded to the litigation in a way that is very much in character.
As noted in a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, Elon Musk and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon have been clashing behind closed doors for years. Citing individuals familiar with the matter, the news outlet noted that the two executives have actually tried to patch things up in the past, but such attempts have been unsuccessful. The WSJ‘s sources further stated that JP Morgan decided some time ago that it is better off without Tesla.
What is quite interesting with the whole situation was the fact that JPMorgan opted to fight Tesla in public, which is something that banks typically avoid, especially on clients that are as prolific as the EV maker. Tesla, after all, recently achieved a market cap of $1 trillion, effectively making it one of the largest businesses by valuation in the United States.
JPMorgan, however, maintained in its lawsuit that it had no choice but to seek legal action against Tesla. “We have provided Tesla multiple opportunities to fulfill its contractual obligations, so it is unfortunate that they have forced this issue into litigation,” the bank stated.
Elon Musk responded to JPMorgan’s legal action by personally providing a “final warning” to the bank. Based on Musk’s statement to the WSJ, Tesla would strongly prefer it if JPMorgan would withdraw its lawsuit. But in classic Elon Musk fashion, the CEO noted that he would do something substantial if the bank does not heed his warning — he would leave a one-star review of JPMorgan on Yelp.
“If JPM doesn’t withdraw their lawsuit, I will give them a one-star review on Yelp. This is my final warning!” Musk noted. In a later tweet, Musk added that he gave a “serious” response since JPMorgan’s allegations were equally “serious.”
While the CEO was evidently in a joking mood when he responded to the WSJ about JPMorgan’s lawsuit against Tesla, the EV maker and Musk himself have both been distancing themselves from the bank for some time now. Public records revealed that JPMorgan’s investment bankers have not worked on any Tesla offering or transaction since 2016. Even when the bank worked on Tesla’s initial public offering in 2010, it was typically ranked behind other banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
Perhaps the icing on the cake was the fact that JPMorgan’s Chase consumer bank was initially hesitant to be an early backer of Tesla. According to the WSJ‘s sources, this was because Chase was concerned about the long-term value of electric vehicle batteries. Chase executives did eventually approach Musk about a potential agreement to make the bank a primary lander to Tesla buyers, but by this time, the CEO reportedly declined.
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