Tesla Issuing Junk Bonds To Raise Needed Funds For Model 3 Launch

Tesla is serious enough about needed cashflow for hitting Model 3 production targets to ask for its first-ever round of junk bonds.

Tesla executives started roadshows today meeting with investment fund managers to raise about $1.5 billion in high-yield junk bonds, according to the IFR financial publication. Production will be ramping up soon to make ready for the target to increase vehicle production about five-fold to 500,000 units next year.

Other funding channels used by Tesla have been equity offerings and convertible bonds, which will eventually convert over to Tesla shares. Going that route raised $1.4 billion for Tesla in March though a convertible debt offering.

The electric carmaker last week reported to shareholders during the quarterly conference call that it had burned through $1.16 billion in the second quarter. That was done to increase production capacity for the Model 3 and to increase battery output, said CEO Elon Musk.

Debt load had gone up last year when the company acquired solar panel maker SolarCity.

“The major challenge facing the company during the next twelve months will largely be the considerable execution risks associated with the rapid ramp-up in production of a totally new vehicle,” Moody’s senior vice president Bruce Clark said.

Moody’s is still optimistic about Tesla’s outlook, issuing a B3 rating to the bond and an overall B2 rating for the company. The rating outlook was stable based on the assumption that if the company ends up in financial trouble, its brand name, products, and physical assets would have “considerable value” to other automakers.

SEE ALSO: Musk Changes Course With Tesla Model Y Now Sharing Model 3’s Platform

Standard & Poor’s issued a lesser rating, B-, and negative outlook.

“We could lower our ratings on Tesla if execution issues related to the Model 3 launch later this year or the ongoing expansion of its Models S and X production lead to significant cost overruns,” S&P said in a statement on the junk bonds.

Shareholders have continued to back Tesla and keep its stock value high. Junk bonds can bring in high yield, but it is a high-risk security and could be costly for the company – and likely would bring down stock prices if it doesn’t turn out well.

The amount of investor backing Tesla can achieve this week will determine the single B-rated bond’s interest rate. It could be around 5.5 percent over a 7-to-8-year maturing cycle, according to Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Fixed Income Index data.

Reuters reported factors under consideration by junk bond backers would be the absence of a borrowing history by the company; the company’s lack of profit; a high cash-burn rate compared to its growth potential; and Tesla being an environmentally friendly “green” junk bond issuer.

Lead underwriters on the new wave of fundraising include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, and RBC, according to IFR.

Reuters


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