Billionaire Ron Baron, a major Tesla shareholder, told CNBC on Friday that Elon Musk doesnt need “adult supervision.”
Usually, voluntary submissions are more standard for the SEC, Pitt says. So when the SEC issues a subpoena, it means that the agency feels the need to compel the production of documents and testimony. Tesla isnt the only one receiving the subpoenas, either: former employees have received them, and suppliers and subcontractors may be getting them, too, Pitt says. So we should stay tuned. Any publicly traded suppliers whove been subpoenaed about Tesla may tell us more about the inquiry when they file their own reports.
“Are you kidding me? When all of a sudden you have this success? He could have retired when he was 30, 32 when he made $150 million, he chose to put all that money into SpaceX and into Tesla,” Baron said in a “Squawk Box” interview from his annual investment conference at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.
“This guy is worth $30 billion, $40 billion,” Baron said two days after Robyn Denholm was named to replace Musk as Tesla chair. Musk was forced to relinquish the chairmanship in the wake of his infamous unfounded tweet that he had backing to take the electric auto maker private. Musk remains CEO.
“You need adult supervision?” Baron continued. “Theres one Elon Musk. Theres one Warren Buffett. Theres one Jeff Bezos. Theres one Sam Walton.”
Tesla critics suggest that Denholm, a director there since 2014, does not count as the “adult supervision” they believe that Musk needs.
He also said hes a “fan of women” in business. “[GM CEO] Mary Barra has done an amazing job.” Women “think differently” than men, he added. He also credited women at Baron Capital who have “done an amazing job.”
Musk has done phenomenally well with Gwynne Shotwell as president and COO of SpaceX, the entrepreneurs privately held commercial space company, Baron said, adding he hopes Denholm will be like Shotwell.
Her experience in financial management should prove critical for Tesla. The companys high-flying stock price cant conceal the weakness of its balance sheet. The electric car manufacturer delivered a surprise, $311.5 million profit — rather than the more than $200 million loss industry analysts had forecast for the third quarter. It was only the third time Tesla was in the black since going public in 2010 and it appears to bode well for Musk, who had promised his company would be profitable and deliver positive cash flow for the second half of 2018.
Tesla on Wednesday announced it elevated Denholm to chairwoman. Stripping Musk of the chairmanship was mandated as part of a September settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission following his August tweets in which he claimed he had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 a share.
Yet, that might not be her biggest challenge. Since last spring, the South African-born Musks behavior has become increasingly controversial. He first came under fire when he derided several industry analysts during a first-quarter earnings call. He subsequently got into a flame war with a British diver who helped rescue a group of Thai teens trapped in a flooded cave and now faces a defamation lawsuit. Musk tossed fuel on the fire when he lit up a joint while appearing on comedian Joe Rogans podcast.
During Thursdays trading session, Tesla eclipsed $357 per share, topping the $356.77 price when Musk sent those tweets. Tesla shares were down as much as 26 percent at their near-term closing lows on Oct. 19.
Last month, in his first CNBC appearance since Musks erratic behavior over the summer, Baron told “Squawk Box” that he believes Tesla could be a $1 trillion company in revenue by 2030.
Baron reiterated that prediction on CNBC Friday, and added “maybe a $2 trillion in valuation” someday.
The Baron Capital founder said his average cost of acquiring his Tesla stake between 2014-2016 stands at $219 per share. Baron Funds currently owns 1.7 million shares, worth nearly $600 million at Wednesdays close of $351 per share.
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