Jul 12, 2021 - Economy & Business

Elon Musk goes to court to defend Tesla's SolarCity purchase

Photo of Elon Musk in black shaking hands with someone outdoors

Photo: Christophe Gateau/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Elon Musk appeared in court Monday to defend Tesla's 2016 purchase of SolarCity — and to downplay his own power over the company that's practically synonymous with his name.

Why it matters: If the court finds that Musk acted to benefit himself, rather than Tesla, in the SolarCity deal, he may have to personally reimburse Tesla for the $2.6 billion acquisition.

The backstory: When Tesla bought SolarCity, the home-solar company had just turned in two years of massive losses and owed $3 billion in debt. Critics called it a bailout.

  • Musk himself owned 22% of SolarCity at the time.

What he's saying: "Since it was a stock-for-stock transaction and I owned almost exactly the same percentage of both, there was no financial gain," Musk said in court Monday, CNBC reports.

  • He disputed the accusation that he controlled Tesla board members or that he forced them to back the deal, CNBC wrote.

Details: The case was brought by plaintiffs who owned Tesla's stock. Arguments kicked off Monday and are expected to go for two weeks.

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