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SEC intensifies probe of Tesla

Move comes after founder tweeted he might take the company private

Bloomberg

Elon Musk on Tuesday tweeted he is considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share.
Bloomberg Elon Musk on Tuesday tweeted he is considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is increasing its scrutiny of Tesla’s public statements in the wake of Elon Musk’s provocative tweet Tuesday about taking the electric-car company private, according to two people familiar with the matter.

SEC enforcement lawyers in the San Francisco office already were gathering general information about Tesla’s public pronouncements on manufacturing goals and sales targets, according to the people who asked not to be named because the review is private.

Now lawyers from that office also are examining whether Musk’s tweet about having funding secured to buy out the company was meant to be factual, according to one of the people.

The SEC inquiry is preliminary and won’t necessarily lead to anything more formal. Tesla, which hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Judith Burns, an SEC spokeswoman, declined to comment.

The scrutiny adds to pressure on Musk, who has a history of setting sales targets that bulls consider to be aggressive and bears contend are unrealistic.

The question for regulators is whether any of his public statements or the company’s run afoul of federal securities laws.

The SEC generally considers statements by executives to be material information that have to be true.

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