Tesla shares tumbled more than 4 percent Monday after the electric vehicle maker said it was hitting the brakes on CEO Elon Musk's idea to take the company private - and reports that Volkswagen was among the interested investors.
It is not clear exactly why Musk changed his mind about taking Tesla private, but the WSJ report suggested that he balked at the proposal of relinquishing further control of his company in order to secure the investment.
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The high price investors have put on Tesla's shares has allowed Musk to expand US production, invest in building out a vehicle charging network and start work on new models including a small sport utility vehicle, a new Roadster and a semi-truck even as the company burned cash.
The Saudis were unhappy about Musk detailing his talks with the Kingdom's sovereign wealth fund in an August 13 blog post, where the CEO justified his earlier tweet about "funding secured" on their interest, the people said. After the initial tweet, shares of Tesla soared.
Investors in Tesla's bonds and convertible debt also had shown skepticism that the buyout would materialize during the days after that tweet, and a subsequent blog post in which Musk made a case for going private.
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"This is simply something that you don't lie about, this is not the way it's done", he said.
Musk said in a blog post late on Friday that his decision to scuttle the proposed deal was motivated in part by existing Tesla shareholders who said they wanted the company to remain publicly-traded. "And now Tesla needs to get back to basics, which is ramping Model 3 production and profitability".
Belief in the Model 3 had helped propel Tesla's share price 62 percent higher in the 1-1/2 years after the Palo Alto, California-based company unveiled it in March 2016.
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Abandoning the plans, however, does not eliminate the concerns that led the SEC to launch a formal investigation into the company in the first place. Many institutional investors would have had their investments restricted, while retail investors would have been left out, he added. Coffee noted that the SEC may feel as though these disclosures were deficient.