Tesla IPO Threatened by CEO's Divorce Trial

Elon Musk />

Elon Musk (Photo: jdlasica)

James Bond was able to mix business with pleasure, but the marital problems of Tesla Motors’ chief executive officer may very well challenge the emerging company. Elon Musk’s divorce trial could put into question his control of the company, possibly having to surrender significant shares to his wife, a fantasy novelist.

The trial involves a contest over a 2000 postnuptial agreement, which if set aside would place Musk’s stakes in Tesla, SolarCity and Space Exploration Technologies at risk. The problem, however, lies in a condition in the most recent S-1 filing of a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy that states that the loan would default to the DOE “in the event Mr. Musk and certain of his affiliates fail to own, at any time prior to one year after we complete the project relating to the Model S, at least 65 percent of the capital stock held by Mr. Musk and such affiliates as of the date of the DOE Loan Facility.”

A shift in power could also result in boardroom maneuvering, according to Owen Thomas, potentially resulting in strategic changes. Even with the $465 million loan and without a disruption to its leadership, Tesla Motors would be fighting against the odds to deliver its Model S electric sedan by late 2011, as planned.

Tesla spokesman Ricardo Reyes, in a VentureBeat interview, said the company does not “expect the case to have an impact on the S-1 filing.” The next hearings are set for May 5-May 7.


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