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Tesla raises $2.35 billion in boosted debt and stock offerings

Tesla raises $2.35 billion in boosted debt and stock offerings
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk unveils the Model Y crossover at Tesla's design studio in Hawthorne in March. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Tesla Inc. raised $2.35 billion through debt and stock offerings, more than the company initially planned, helping to put some near-term liquidity fears to rest.

The electric-car maker raised $750 million selling common stock and $1.6 billion from convertible bonds, up from originally offering $650 million and $1.35 billion. The capital raise, completed Friday, sparked a relief rally in both Tesla’s stock and bonds, which had reflected investor worry over whether the company can be sustainably profitable.

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“The raise should refute lingering concerns about TSLA’s ability to access capital markets,” Ben Kallo, a Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst who rates Tesla the equivalent of buy, said in a note Friday. “Surplus cash should help alleviate investor concerns around liquidity.”

Tesla priced the stock at $243 per share and will pay 2% semiannual interest on the convertible bonds due in 2024, which were issued with a 27.5% conversion premium, according to filings. Tesla stock, which had been down 30% this year, closed up 4.5% at $255.03 in New York on Friday.

Tesla tapped the markets again after Chief Executive Elon Musk overestimated the ability of the Model 3 sedan to generate enough cash for the company to be self-sustaining. Musk said on several occasions last year that Tesla would no longer need to raise capital as its first mass-manufactured car ramped up. Musk changed his tune after the first quarter, when a record decline in vehicle deliveries and the company’s biggest-ever debt payment depleted its cash balance to a three-year low of $2.2 billion.

Musk, 47, is participating in the equity offering by buying about $25 million in stock, according to a filing Friday, up from $10 million. Tesla hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group, Societe Generale and Wells Fargo & Co. to underwrite the share offering.

“We view this as a clear net positive for Tesla,” Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in a note Thursday. The electric-car maker needed to “take its medicine and clear the air of the very real investor worries.”

The convertible bonds priced at the high end of the initial range communicated to investors, allowing Tesla to boost the size of the offering. On Thursday, the securities were being marketed with a coupon of between 1.5% and 2%, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The conversion premium was being talked at a range of 27.5% to 32.5%, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the private deal terms.

Tesla’s 5.3% bonds due in 2025 were trading higher early Friday, quoted at 87 cents on the dollar, according to Trace. They were among the best performers in the U.S. high-yield market Thursday, while credit default swaps tied to the debt rallied the most since October. It now costs about $1.6 million upfront to insure $10 million of Tesla bonds against a default for five years, down from $1.7 million on Wednesday.

The combined offering will help Tesla repay a November debt maturity of $566 million of outstanding convertible notes, fund the cash requirements from the expansion of Model 3 shipments to Europe, and cover the cash burn that might result from any softening in demand for the Models 3, S and X in the U.S., said Moody’s Investors Service analyst Bruce Clark.

Tesla is planning as much as $2.5 billion in capital expenditures this year as it develops new vehicles including the Model Y crossover, Semi truck and Roadster sports car. It’s also building a battery and vehicle factory near Shanghai, where it plans to begin producing Model 3s this year.

“This indicates Tesla can’t yet rely on cash from operations to fund its deeper penetration into autonomous-driving technology, advanced chips, insurance and China,” said Kevin Tynan, senior autos analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence.

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