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Elon Musk has plans to take Tesla private, unless he’s just trolling

Elon Musk keeps tweeting about taking Tesla private.
Elon Musk keeps tweeting about taking Tesla private.

Image: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, in true Elon Musk fashion, took to Twitter to think out loud about his electric car business. Or possibly troll us all.

On the social media platform he noted the possibility of taking Tesla — a publicly traded company since 2010 — private. 

Upon the news, Tesla stock quickly shot up to $365, climbing toward $420 — the amount Musk noted would be the trigger price. Which could very well be a stoner joke. He seemed to find the number very amusing.

No matter if he was joking or not, as soon as Musk tweeted about this, the stock spiked. In other words, his tweet had real market implications.

Elon Musk says he wants to take Tesla private. Unless he's trolling us.

The stock had already been heading upwards after news about a Saudi Arabian fund with a large (about 3 to 5 percent) stake in the electric car company. 

Additionally Musk added “funding secured” — which raises legal issues about blasting that information out in a tweet. Intentions to buy out public shareholders usually need to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC.  

The SEC has a social media policy, but it appears he would still need to properly file notices.

The SEC website explains that “Form 8-K is the ‘current report’ companies must file with the SEC to announce major events that shareholders should know about.”

Taking Tesla private would certainly qualify.

Paul Huettner, an associate at a financial advisory firm that specializes in restructuring and bankruptcy, said in a call that announcements like this are normally done after markets close. But Musk isn’t one to follow norms.

Huettner called it one of the weirdest tweets ever — at least in the financial world. And if the information in the tweet isn’t true, Musk could be looking at some stock price manipulation allegations.

We reached out to Tesla to find out what this all means and will update when we hear more.

This story is developing…

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