© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his security leave the company’s local office in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
By Jody Godoy
(Reuters) – A lawyer for Tesla (NASDAQ: ) Inc shareholders who claim Elon Musk deceived them when he tweeted that he had secured funding for the private electric car maker is expected to make closing arguments before a jury in San Francisco on Friday.
A nine-member jury will decide whether the tweet artificially inflated Tesla’s stock price by raising the deal’s financing status, and if so, by how much.
Investors are seeking billions in damages from Musk, Tesla and several company executives.
The trial is testing whether Musk, the world’s second-richest person, can be held responsible for his sometimes impulsive use of Twitter.
Tesla shareholders accused Musk of misleading them by tweeting on August 7, 2018, that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share, a 23% premium to its last closing price and valuing the company at $72 billion. and that he had “secured financing.”
They say Musk was lying when he tweeted later that day that “investor support confirmed.”
Tesla’s share price traded above the level it was at before Musk’s tweets for much of the 10-day period covered by the lawsuit, but fell when it became clear the buyout would not happen.
During the three-week trial, jurors heard testimony from witnesses including Tesla executives, Musk’s financial advisers and Musk himself.
Musk testified that funding was not an issue when he sent the tweets. He said he had arranged financing, including a verbal commitment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, and was able to use his stake in SpaceX to finance the deal.
But Musk admitted at the forum that he lacks concrete commitments from potential backers.
The defense team, which is also expected to give closing arguments on Friday, acknowledged the tweets contained “technical inaccuracies” but said Musk was focused on ensuring small shareholders had the same information as large investors who knew about the potential buyout. .