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Tesla will remain public, Elon Musk says

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Elon Musk at SpaceX Mars Event

Tesla will remain a public company, Elon Musk said in a blog post on the company website. He attributed the decision to shareholder sentiment. “Although the majority of shareholders I spoke to said they would remain with Tesla if we went private, the sentiment, in a nutshell, was ‘please don’t do this,’” Musk wrote.

Musk said he was advised by Silver Lake, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley on the possibility of going private. He described the process of taking Tesla private as “even more time-consuming and distracting than initially anticipated.” That would serve as a distraction from increasing production on the Model 3, which is part of Musk’s plan for Tesla to become profitable. Musk also said in the post that the process of exploring his options reinforced his belief that “there is more than enough funding to take Tesla private.”

On August 7, Musk tweeted he was “considering taking Tesla private at $420.” A great deal of speculation followed, and the stock price fluctuated. Musk has previously said — on more than one occasion — he prefers private companies to public companies. But the path to going private wasn’t entirely clear; Musk wanted to keep his shareholders aboard though it wasn’t obvious how to structure such a transaction. Part of Musk’s motivation for staying public, he said in the post, was that his institutional shareholders had “compliance issues” when it came to investing in private companies.

Musk’s go-private plan didn’t just cause consternation among his shareholders — it also interested the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to The New York Times. “is ramping up an investigation about whether he misled investors and violated federal securities laws,” The Times reported earlier today. Previous reporting in The Wall Street Journal suggested that the SEC was already investigating Tesla for possibly misleading investors about its Model 3 production. Tesla faces at least three investor lawsuits that accuse Musk’s August 7 tweet of being market manipulation.

Tesla’s independent board members, identified as Brad Buss, Robyn Denholm, Ira Ehrenpreis, Antonio Gracias, Linda Johnson Rice, and James Murdoch, released a statement soon after the news went public.

Over the past several weeks, we put in place a process led by a Special Committee of the Board to evaluate a proposal Elon was considering to take Tesla private. Yesterday, we held a Board meeting, during which Elon reported on the work he and his advisors have been doing in connection with this effort. Elon communicated to the Board that after having done this work and considered all factors, he believes the better path is to no longer pursue a transaction for taking Tesla private. After discussing this, we dissolved the Special Committee. The Board and the entire company remain focused on ensuring Tesla’s operational success, and we fully support Elon as he continues to lead the company moving forward.

Correction 12:20AM ET: A previous version of this story misstated compliance issues for institutional investors — they have trouble with private companies, not public companies.

Updated August 24th 8:08AM ET to include the statement from Tesla’s independent board members.