A jury found Elon Musk not responsible for costing investors millions of dollars when he issued a series of tweets saying he had “secured” funds to take the electric car maker private.
Friday’s verdict, delivered by a nine-person Northern California jury, represents a legal victory for the 51-year-old billionaire, who has seen the value of his Tesla holdings plummet 44% over the past year.
During the trial, Musk personally took the stand to defend the tweets and testified that he believed he had a 2018 handshake deal with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund to turn Tesla, which is a publicly traded company, in a private It was the Saudis, he said, who subsequently reneged on the deal.
“I had no bad motive,” Musk said during nearly eight hours of testimony last month. “My intent was to do the right thing for all shareholders.”
Nicholas Porritt, a lawyer representing Tesla shareholders in the case, responded that a formal settlement was never reached and that Musk’s tweet had served his own interests rather than those of investors, costing them millions and potentially thousands. of millions of dollars as Tesla’s stock price fluctuated. during ordeal.
Even before the trial, California District Court Judge Edward Chen ruled that the tweets were false and reckless. Separately, Musk and Tesla had arrived a $40 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission just a month after the tweets were published, though Chen instructed the jury not to consider that development in their deliberations.
Just three weeks after his musings online, Musk decided to scrap the go-private proposal after consulting with shareholders. But Musk, as well as several colleagues, testified that they had no doubt that Musk could have raised the funds to take the company private if necessary, mainly by using shares in SpaceX, his rocket company.
By one measure, the decision to keep Tesla public paid off: Tesla shares are worth more than eight times what they were worth at the time of Musk’s buyout tweet, after adjusting for the two stock splits that occurred since so.
Associated Press contributed.