Why Seagulls Are Not Angry Just \'misunderstood\'

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The circus maximus of Tesla's go-private plan has been with us for about two weeks. I've already pointed out that we shouldn't be surprised that Elon Musk doesn't want to be the CEO of a public company anymore, but to be honest this thing has gotten pretty nuts.

The deal itself — or non-deal, or theoretical deal, take your pick — is the nuttiest aspect. Musk wants to convert all Tesla's major shareholders from public to private status and raise enough money to buy out anybody who can't or doesn't want to come along for the ride.

This has reduced the price tag from a staggering $80 billion (Tesla's market cap at a $420 per share exit valuation plus debt) to a far more modest but still chewy $15 billion-$20 billion, based on my own back-of-the-envelope math. Musk has said that he's talking to investors, and that he infamously has talked to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.

As we move into a fortnight of continued speculation, Teslaology, and drippy-drabby information leaks around everything from SEC probes to how many lawyers and bankers will ultimately make enough on this deal to buy extra homes, it might be worth it to again consider what I'll call the "Mighty Eagle" scenario.

Apple is Tesla's Mighty Eagle

Bring on the Mighty Eagle!
Anthony Quintano/flickr

You might recall the Mighty Eagle from the Angry Birds craze a few years back. For months, my kids did little besides play Angry Birds whenever possible. Soon enough, they discovered the Mighty Eagle, the super bird that had the power to obliterate all pigs and their fortifications in a breathtaking, screeching swoop.

Tesla's Mighty Eagle is Apple. I've really done a 180 on this one. Initially, I thought Apple buying Tesla — a sort of Silicon Valley high-fantasy M&A mashup from the 2014-2015 period — was a bad idea. But then Apple began to demonstrate that it was floundering with its own car project. Tesla also started to look delusional about its own growth prospects, after a new pay package for Musk was approved that would see the carmaker's market cap rising to $650 billion.

I'm somewhat more optimistic that Tesla will actually make good on some of its supporters' more extreme predictions for the company's eventual market impact (the "Tesla as the iPhone of cars" argument), but the last time I wrote about Apple buying Tesla, I maintained that such a deal would save Tesla from its own hubris.

Let's now amend that to Apple saving Tesla and Musk from one of the weirdest take-private schemes in financial history.

The incredibly complicated deal vs. the incredible simple deal

Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Joe Skipper / Reuters

It would just be so, so straightforward. Apple could easily pay $420 per share for Tesla, in an all-cash, stock-and-cash, or all-stock deal. Apple could also play the role of take-private buyout funder, but that path seems far less elegant, although it would help Musk to avoid serving a single master, assuming he remained CEO.

Source : https://www.businessinsider.com/apple-could-still-buy-tesla-2018-8

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