In a potentially ominous development for Elon Musk, Tesla's biggest institutional investor, Baillie Gifford, said that it had spoken to the SEC about Elon Musk’s plans to take the electric carmaker private and told Reuters that the chief executive needs help running the company.
“He needs help, and I mean that psychologically as much as practically,” said asset manager Baillie Gifford’s James Anderson, the fund manager of Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, which owns 7.72% of Tesla's outstanding shares.
Anderson told Reuters he has talked with Musk about the idea of bringing in another executive, something analysts have been calling for amid a broader appeal for Tesla to add a chief operating officer or other new blood to top management.
Anderson also said that Musk told him he was "getting there" on the idea of accepting more help in running the company. The asset manager who previously complained about Musk's tweeting, also said that he had suggested to Musk his tweets are “not a great thing” and added that the firm had been talking to the SEC about Musk’s proposal and financing claims.
“I don’t know what they’ll do with him, but there’s no implication that we’ve done anything wrong,” Anderson said in an interview at the firm’s London office. “I think quite naturally they wanted to know whether major shareholders had any lead indication or knowledge of the tweet about 'funding secured.'"
Anderson also said he had spoken with Musk twice and was arranging to speak with the company’s board.
That said, Anderson added that the media coverage around the going-private comments has not shaken his belief in Tesla or its “extraordinary” CEO. "We think there is a decent chance that they can prove to be an extremely profitable, competitively advantaged company which will produce high returns" Anderson said.
Tesla next top institutional shareholders, T. Rowe Price and Fidelity, both of which sold over 3 million TSLA shares in the last quarter, declined to discuss with Reuters whether they have spoken with the SEC about Tesla.
Meanwhile, in more bad news for Musk, moments ago Bloomberg reported that another high-ranking finance executive at Tesla is leaving the company: Justin McAnear, vice president of worldwide finance and operation, is parting ways with the electric-car maker. McAnear is one of the highest-ranking executives in the department overseen by Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja.
Shen Jackson, Tesla’s director of manufacturing engineering, also took a leave of absence in April to spend time with his family and travel, he said in a LinkedIn post this week Bloomberg notes. He wrote that he officially stopped working at the company last week.