Tesla CEO Elon Musk is considering leading a buyout of the electric-car maker in a stunning move that would end the maverick company's eight-year history trading on the stock market.
In his typically unorthodox fashion, Musk dropped his bombshell on his Twitter account, which he has used as a platform for pranks, vitriol and now for a proposal to pull off one of the biggest buyouts in U.S. history.
After the stock market had already been open more than three hours Tuesday, Musk got the ball rolling with a tweet announcing he might buy all of Tesla's stock at $420 per share.
At that price, the buyout would cost nearly $72 billion, based on Tesla's outstanding stock as of July 27, but it's unlikely the deal would cost that much because Musk owns a roughly 20 percent stake in the Palo Alto, California, company. He also said he intends to give Tesla's existing shareholders the option of retaining a stake in the company through a special fund, if they want.
"Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured," Musk wrote in his first tweet, following up with "good morning" and a smiley emoji.
His tweet came hours after the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund had built a significant stake in Tesla Inc., but it was unclear if that was the funding Musk mentioned. The Financial Times, citing unnamed people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund had built a stake of between 3 and 5 percent of Tesla's shares.
Musk's announcement was initially met with widespread skepticism, with many people connecting the proposed $420-per-share offer with "420," a slang term for marijuana.
Musk also previously used his Twitter account to joke that Tesla was going bankrupt in an April Fool's Day tweet. His stability was called into question last month after he called a British diver who helped rescue children from a Thailand cave a pedophile. That baseless tweet was quickly deleted, and Musk apologized to the diver.
The confusion caused by Musk's Tuesday announcement via Twitter also prompted regulators of the Nasdaq stock market to temporarily suspend trading in Tesla's stock.
Musk later brought some clarity to the situation in an email to Tesla employees that also was posted on Tesla's blog. Trading in Tesla's stock resumed shortly after, and the stock climbed 11 percent to $379.57. Musk's offer is 9 percent higher than Tesla's peak closing price of $385 reached nearly a year ago.
By taking Tesla private, Musk believes the company will be able to sharpen its long-term focus of revolutionizing an automobile industry dominated by fuel-combustion vehicles without having to cater to investors' fixation on how the business is faring from one quarter to the next.