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Tesla CEO Elon Musk Answers SolarCity Investors Who Say He Was a ‘Conflicted’ Fiduciary

Date published: 2019-09-10
Originally published: Here. Excerpt below.

Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said he was involved in some discussions about the $2.6 billion acquisition of SolarCity in 2016, though he recused himself from a board vote approving the initial offer.
Musk made the disclosure when he was questioned under oath by lawyers for pension and investment funds that claim he duped investors into backing the buyout of the solar-energy company that was founded by his cousins and where he was the chairman and largest shareholder.
I could not be recused from all discussions, Musk said in the deposition, according to a filing last week in Delaware Chancery court. I needed to voice my opinion, obviously.
The shareholders filing refers to the deposition and includes some quotes from Musk, but doesnt include the transcript. The filing is also heavily redacted, with large portions blacked out.
The shareholders claim in the three-year-old lawsuit that SolarCity was basically insolvent when the companies publicly announced plans to merge in June 2016 and not worth the price ultimately negotiated by Teslas conflicted fiduciaries.
They say theyll prove that at trial. In the meantime they asked the judge to rule that Tesla has the burden to show the deal was fair and cant rely on the argument that stockholders approved the transaction.
More than 85% of the companys stockholders voted to back the acquisition of SolarCity, but pension funds that opposed the buyout accuse Musk of wrongly inflating SolarCitys value.
Teslas board first heard about Musks proposal to buy SolarCity at an emergency board meeting in late February 2016. At the time, Musk was SolarCitys chairman and largest shareholder; his cousin Lyndon Rive was SolarCitys CEO, and the boards of the two companies were far from independent.
Raising equity or taking on additional debt wasnt an option for SolarCity, which installed solar panels on homes and businesses.
If [banks] think youre running lowdangerously low on cash, then they dont want to give you cash, Mu ...

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— NUS Trivia | tech news (@NusTrivia) September 10, 2019