Apple Inc. quietly explored buying Tesla Inc. in 2013 for $240 per share, but the deal fell apart after the Cupertino-based company insisted that Tesla CEO Elon Musk step away from day-to-day operations, Roth Capital Partners analyst Craig Irwin told CNBC.
“This is something we did multiple checks on,” Irwin said in an interview published Tuesday. “I have complete confidence that this is accurate. Apple bid for Tesla. I don’t know if it got to a formal paperwork stage, but I know from multiple different sources that this was very credible.”
Tesla spent 2013 on a rapid upward trajectory, beginning the year at $35 per share and trading as high as $193 per share by late September. In other words, investors who bought $10,000 worth of Tesla stock in January 2013 would have seen that stake grow to $55,000 in just eight months.
Irwin says Apple’s interest in building an electric self-driving car stretched back to at least 2013, when they floated the idea internally of buying Tesla to jump ahead of the competition.
A 2014 article from the San Francisco Chronicle backs up Irwin’s sources, saying that Apple’s head of mergers and acquisitions met with Musk in the spring of 2013 about buying the company.
Separately, in March 2013, Musk met with Google CEO Larry Page, now chief executive at the search giant’s parent company Alphabet Inc., about buying Tesla for $6 billion in cash, and a commitment to invest another $5 billion on factories, according to a 2015 biography of Musk by business journalist Ashlee Vance.
Apple’s purported acquisition talks took on new meaning today, as Tesla opened below $200 per share — their lowest price since December 2016. The stock closed at $205.08, up 0.14 percent for the day.
“If Apple had interest then, they would probably have interest now at the right price,” Irwin said.
Neither Apple nor Tesla immediately commented on the report.
Tesla has struggled in 2019 to turn a profit. The carmaker burned through around $200 million in cash per month in the first quarter, laid off thousands of employees and briefly floated an idea to close most of its retail stores. In an all-hands email, Musk said “hardcore” belt-tightening is on the horizon, and promised to personally review company expenses.
Apple Inc. shares fell $0.35 (-0.19%) in after-hours trading Tuesday. Year-to-date, Apple Inc. (AAPL - Get Rating) has gained 19.26%, versus a 15.14% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.
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