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Musk says Saudi fund pushed for two years to take Tesla private

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By Reuters
Musk says Saudi fund pushed for two years to take Tesla private
FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk at a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper   -   Copyright  Joe Skipper(Reuters)

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has been pushing to take electric carmaker Tesla <TSLA.O> private in talks with Chief Executive Elon Musk dating back nearly two years and also backed the deal last week, Musk said in a blog post on Monday.

Musk last week shocked investors with his announcement on Twitter that he was looking to take Tesla private at $420 (£328.7) a share, valuing the company at $72 billion (£56.3 billion). He provided no details on funding except that it was “secured”.

“Going back almost two years, the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund has approached me multiple times about taking Tesla private,” Musk wrote in a blog post on Monday.

“They first met with me at the beginning of 2017 to express this interest because of the important need to diversify away from oil. They then held several additional meetings with me over the next year to reiterate this interest and to try to move forward with a going private transaction.

“Obviously, the Saudi sovereign fund has more than enough capital needed to execute on such a transaction.”

Musk said that since his Twitter posts last week the managing director of the Saudi fund had expressed support for proceeding with the deal subject to financial and other due diligence.

“I left the July 31st meeting (with the fund) with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving,” Musk said.

“This is why I referred to ‘funding secured’ in the August 7th announcement.”

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)