Tesla CEO Elon Musk testified in court Monday in a shareholder lawsuit over the electric carmaker’s controversial acquisition of SolarCity in 2016. A group of Tesla shareholders contends that Mr Musk, who was chairman of both Tesla and SolarCity at the time of the transaction, “poisoned” Tesla’s ability to fairly evaluate the purchase, wasting corporate assets in the $2.6 billion deal and harming shareholders.
According to news agency AFP, the group of investors, which includes union pension funds and other institutional investors, argues that SolarCity was a failing enterprise that faced “likely bankruptcy” were it not for the actions of Elon Musk and other Tesla board members, who also had large equity stakes in SolarCity.
As he testified in a Delaware courtroom on Monday, Mr Musk maintained that he did not have any sway over the board’s decision when it approved the deal. He wrapped up his testimony before the Delaware Court of Chancery on Tuesday afternoon, spending almost nine hours defending Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, reports CNBC. Here’s a look at some of his best quotes from the testimony:
Elon Musk “rather hates” being the CEO of Tesla
Elon Musk said he “tried very hard not to be the CEO of Tesla”, adding that he hated the job. “I rather hate it, and I would much prefer to spend my time on design and engineering, which is what intrinsically I like doing,” the 50-year-old billionaire said.
He says Tesla would “die” without him
After saying that he hated running Tesla, Mr Musk said the company would “die” if he wasn’t the chief executive. “[I] tried very hard not to be the CEO of Tesla, but I have to or frankly Tesla is going to die,” said Elon Musk, as per a Reuters report.
“No financial gain” in SolarCity deal
In his testimony, Mr Musk denied the SolarCity deal was a bailout. “Since it was a stock-for-stock transaction and I owned almost exactly the same percentage of both there was no financial gain,” he testified, according to Daily Mail.
“Free press for Tesla”: Elon Musk on his “Technoking” title
In March, Elon Musk gave himself the title of “Technoking” of Tesla – a fact that was brought up by Randy Baron, the attorney for the plaintiffs, who asked if the title had been vetted by the board. Mr Musk called the title a joke. “It generated a whole bunch of free press and Tesla doesn’t advertise and it’s helpful to general sales,” he said.
“I think I’m funny”
Mr Musk is of the opinion that his offbeat titles (the chief financial officer of Tesla was also given a new title, Master of Coin) and other quirks only represent his sense of humour. “I think I’m funny,” the billionaire businessman said.
The plaintiffs contend Tesla’s board breached their fiduciary duty to Tesla shareholders. They are seeking unspecified monetary relief in the complaint. Plaintiffs have already reached a $60 million settlement with other Tesla directors originally named in the complaint, with the payment coming from insurance. This group, which included Kimbal Musk, Elon Musk’s brother, did not admit fault.
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