It is estimated that Musk would need to raise about $70 billion to buy out investors at $420 a share. While that astronomical number may put Musk in the crazy column, analysts at Needham said they believe that Musk could actually achieve enough funding to make this work.
This view is dependent on the fact that Musk did provide an opening for those who believe in the company to stay on as private investors.
"Based on our ownership analysis, the top 10 mutual fund holders own 41% of shares outstanding, and 'insiders' account for 25% (Mr. Musk's 20% stake and Tencent's 5%)," Needham's note said. "It is possible to envision a scenario whereby the top holders decide to stay on as private investors, as many believe the inherent value is substantially higher compared to today."
If that scenario comes to pass, Musk would need to raise significantly less cash than the projected $70 billion price tag.
"Tesla might only need to sell 57.6 million shares (or 34%) or $24 billion," according to Needham.
While that is still a large number, it is much more attainable, theoretically, than the first figure. But even if Musk gets his way and takes the company private, there is no guarantee that Tesla meets its lofty goals.
"Our concerns around the fundamentals remain consistent: sustainability of Model 3 gross margins entering 2019, uncertainty of the true level of demand for the Model 3 entering next year once the $7,500 credit declines, the status of the 420k net reservations, the unsustainable capital structure, and high valuation, in our opinion," Needham said.