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Tesla shares tumble 5% on skepticism

Reuters NEW YORK (Reuters) — Tesla Inc.’s shares slipped nearly 5 percent on Thursday, wiping out the gains fueled by Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s announcement of a plan to take the company private, after reports of concern by regulators and on doubt the deal could be done.

Shares fell early in the day, weighed by Wall Street’s skeptical response to Musk’s idea of going private and a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was asking Tesla why Musk announced his plans on Twitter and whether his statement was truthful.

The shares slipped further on Thursday after Bloomberg reported that the SEC already had been looking at Tesla’s public statements, citing two unnamed people it said were familiar with the matter.

Short sellers, who bet that shares will fall and have been a longtime irritant to Musk, increased their positions slightly on Thursday.

“Instead of seeing slight covering, which we have seen over the last couple of days, we are actually seeing slight short selling today,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, head of research at financial technology and analytics firm S3 Partners in New York.

“The short-sellers right now might be smelling blood in the water,” he added.

Tesla disclosed in its most recent quarterly report that it has “received requests for information from regulators and governmental authorities,” including the SEC. The company did not disclose in its filings the details of those requests or its responses.

Musk was asked by an analyst on an Aug. 1 conference call whether Tesla had received a notice from a regulator that would prevent it from raising capital. He said that Tesla had not received such a notice, and that he had no expectation of raising new equity.

Tesla and the SEC declined comment on Thursday.

Ratings agency Moody’s also said Thursday that Tesla’s consideration of going private based on Musk’s letter to shareholders published after his tweets on Tuesday was negative for the company’s credit outlook.

Tesla’s future rests largely on its Model 3 sedan, and it is ramping up production after months of what Musk called “manufacturing hell.” It also faces $1.2 billion in convertible debt maturities through March of next year, the ratings agency wrote.Speech

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