By Hope King and Amanda Weston
Hedge fund manager Gabe Hoffman isn't convinced that Tesla shareholders are better off after Elon Musk's decision to keep his company on the public market.
“I’ve been a hedge fund manager 18 years,” Hoffman, founder of Accipiter Capital Management, said Monday in an interview on Cheddar. “One of the first things you learn is good news never comes on a Friday night.”
Hoffman's statement comes after Tesla's CEO published a blog post on Friday night titled “Staying Public”, in which he wrote, “I met with Tesla’s Board of Directors yesterday and let them know that I believe the better path is for Tesla to remain public. The Board indicated that they agree.”
“Given the feedback I’ve received, it’s apparent that most of Tesla’s existing shareholders believe we are better off as a public company,” Friday's message reads. “I knew the process of going private would be challenging, but it’s clear that it would be even more time-consuming and distracting than initially anticipated…That said, my belief that there is more than enough funding to take Tesla private was reinforced during this process.”
Hoffman, who counts Tesla as his biggest short position ー an “eight-figure” one, he said, betting shares will fall ー deemed Musk's post “unbelievable.” He believes the late-night blog post “absolutely confirms” that Musk committed securities fraud with the original, now-infamous Aug. 7 tweet, which set off 17 days of wild speculation. As a result, Hoffman said Musk’s reign as CEO may be coming to an end.
“He will be out as CEO of Tesla,” Hoffman said. “There’s not one CEO of any public company who has ever survived securities fraud.”
In a phone interview Sunday with Cheddar's Hope King, Hoffman pointed to Biopure, a now-defunct company he had shorted and against which he then helped the SEC mount a securities fraud case in the early aughts. He also cited the case against the company then-called [AAIPharma] (https://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/lr19290.htm), which reportedly inflated sales numbers.
As for the future of Tesla, Hoffman returned to Musk’s “Staying Public” post.
“If you look at companies that go through big changes…what they will typically do is they will iterate their guidance,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘Our CEO is leaving,’ or ‘We hired a new person,’ or whatever, but reiterating their guidance. Tesla in their blog post did not reiterate their third quarter guidance, and that is highly important.”
In its second quarter earnings release, before Musk's tweet, Tesla said it expects to generate cash and a profit in the third and fourth quarters. The company has not yet set a date to release its next earnings report.
Tesla stock, which spiked 11 percent after Musk's take-private tweet, has since fallen more than 7 percent below where they had been and is more than $100 below the price Musk was targeting.