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By Hadriana Lowenkron
As Elon Musk was giving his second day of testimony in San Francisco about his 2018 Tesla Inc. go-private tweet, his wealth was increasing by the most in more than two months.___STEADY_PAYWALL___
Musk’s fortune has swelled by about $10.6 billion to $145.2 billion since taking the stand on Friday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the biggest two-day gain since November. His net worth has rebounded this year along with the majority of the world’s 500 richest people as markets bounce back from a turbulent 2022.
Musk, 51, is facing a securities-fraud lawsuit stemming from his tweet in August 2018 in which he said he was “considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” Investors are arguing that his claims about having the money to take the electric carmaker private amounted to lies that saddled them with big losses before the plan was abandoned. Musk has maintained that there’s no causal link between his tweets and the share-price move (Tesla stock rose as much as 13.3% on the day of the take-private tweet).
It’s not clear which way the federal jury trial will go. Musk told Saudi investors in 2018 that he didn’t own enough of Tesla to take it private by himself, according to a transcript of the conversation disclosed in a proposed court filing Monday. Musk maintained that the Riyadh-based Public Investment Fund “unequivocally wanted to take Tesla private” and accused Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, of backpedaling.
Musk said he owned around 19% of Tesla at the time, and possibly 25% if he exercised some options, according to the transcript. He now owns about 13%, after selling almost $40 billion since late 2021 to pay taxes and help fund his Twitter acquisition.
The billionaire also insisted that his Space Exploration Technologies Corp. shares alone would have secured the funding needed to take Tesla private. SpaceX has become an increasingly crucial part of his fortune — his 42% stake in the closely held company is worth about $49 billion, according to the Bloomberg wealth index.
Musk, who bought Twitter for $54.20 a share, was asked about the root of his $420 share price offer. He said it was “not a joke.”
But “there is some karma around 420,” he said. There’s a “question whether that is good or bad karma at this point.”
Musk last month became the first person ever to see $200 billion erased from their net worth. He’s now down about $195 billion from his peak.
With assistance from Jack Witzig.
To contact the author of this story:
Hadriana Lowenkron in New York at [email protected]
© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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