As foreshadowed by Tesla chief Elon Musk’s second “Master Plan” recently published, today the California-based automaker announced it has agreed to acquire Solar City.
The deal is not final, has a 45-day window where Solar City may seek an alternative suitor, but the $2.6 billion alliance is making waves even as it promises great leaps forward in integrated and sustainably powered vehicles, solar energy, and Powerwall storage products.
“By joining forces, we can operate more efficiently and fully integrate our products, while providing customers with an aesthetically beautiful and simple one-stop solar and storage experience: one installation, one service contract, one phone app,” said Musk in his blog post.
As proposed the deal would see Tesla with 93.5 percent ownership and Solar City with 6.5 percent, and approval is projected by the fourth quarter of this year.
Save Money / Cost Money
Tesla says it expects to garner “significant” cost savings and improve manufacturing efficiency in a “dramatic” way. By combining toward a mutually complementary goal, a stronger balance sheet is promised, though a “small equity capital raise” will be required next year, said Musk.
Among cost-saving measures that could add to $150 million in the first full year after a deal is consummated would be efficiencies like using Tesla’s stores and website to market SolarCity services. Costs also would be reduced by sharing other resources and expenses.
Both companies have however been burning through cash and skeptics have raised the specter of potential conflict of interest as there are strong ties between both companies.
Musk is chief executive of Tesla, chairman at Solar City, and while he has orchestrated the tie-up, he and other key members of the board have recused themselves at pivotal moments including analysis of the deal, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Alliances between the two companies which have relied of subsidies and governmental favor include that Musk’s cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive founded SolarCity and are on its board. Also noteworthy says the Journal is a Tesla co-founder, JB Straubel, sits on SolarCity’s board and investor Antonio Gracias is on both company’s boards.
The WSJ reports that on Monday Solar City’s board said it had amended its bylaws meaning suits would have to take place in Delaware, a state friendly to business.
Musk has said over the coming years tens of billions will be required to grow the enterprise, but despite what leaves others incredulous, this all is going somewhere.
It is not the first time analysts and other observers have scratched their heads over the actions of Elon Musk and company.
To date the company’s stock price has soared along with dips and rebounds on the way up while also turning out products like the Model S and Model X.
Tesla has otherwise said it is proceeding full bore with plans to develop and introduce new electric vehicles with self-driving capability, integrate solar energy and energy storage, and more.
“We can’t do this well if Tesla and SolarCity are different companies, which is why we need to combine and break down the barriers inherent to being separate companies,” said Musk in his post. “That they are separate at all, despite similar origins and pursuit of the same overarching goal of sustainable energy, is largely an accident of history. Now that Tesla is ready to scale Powerwall and SolarCity is ready to provide highly differentiated solar, the time has come to bring them together.”