Tesla might go private. Here’s what that would mean for investors

Personal Finance


“It’s hard to do these types of big-dollar transactions under the best of circumstances,” said J.R. Lanis, a partner at the Los Angeles office of national law firm Drinker Biddle. “If you bring in smaller investors, it’s a coordination nightmare.”

Generally speaking, private companies are allowed to have up to 2,000 regular shareholders without triggering SEC reporting requirements. If a fund were created, it could be a way be a way to sidestep the limit.

However, in that case, experts say the investors would need to be accredited — meaning they need to have at least $1 million in investable assets excluding the value of their home or average yearly earnings of $200,000 ($300,000 for married couples).

In other words, that would remove the option to remain invested for anyone who could not meet those minimum requirements.

“The profile of the typical Tesla investor is someone who is wealthy and a young tech investor, who may or may not be accredited,” said certified financial planner James Gambaccini, a managing partner at Acorn Financial Services in Reston, Virginia.

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Even for those who could stick with the company, it would mean less flexibility in when you can buy or sell shares. Musk’s email to employees said he envisioned allowing shareholders to buy or sell about every six months.

Meanwhile, Musk also said he’d pay $420 per share to investors who would rather sell. Based on the stock’s current price of $373, you’d face capital gains taxes if you choose to sell.

If you’ve held the stock for less than a year, you’d pay ordinary income tax rates on that profit. If you’ve held it for longer, you’d be taxed at long-term capital rates. Those rates are either zero, 15 percent or 20 percent, depending on your income.

By and large, Tesla investors have been rewarded for their confidence in the independent-minded Musk and his vision for Tesla. In June 2010, Tesla went public with an opening share price of $19. Since then, it’s climbed to its current $373 — and that’s despite the company continuing to post losses. In 2017, Tesla had a reported a net loss of $2.24 billion, widening from $773 million in 2016.

Despite those losses, $10,000 invested in Tesla when it went public eight years ago would be worth close to $200,000 today.



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