Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund interested in Tesla rival – report

Fund named by Musk as the source of funding to take Tesla private could invest in Lucid

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is reportedly in talks to make a significant investment in startup electric car maker Lucid.

Sources, who have requested anonymity, have told Reuters the two parties have already drawn up a term sheet, which could see the sovereign wealth fund gaining a majority shareholding in the budding automaker.

Under the preliminary agreement, it’s said PIF will make an initial investment of US$500 million ($693 million), with another US$500 million available in two further tranches, although these funds would only be unlocked once Lucid Motors hits certain production targets.

The news wire’s sources warned a final agreement had yet to be signed, so it’s possible nothing may materialise.

PIF has around US$250 billion ($346 billion) in assets, including a US$45 billion ($62 billion) stake in a technology fund led by the SoftBank Group.

Since 2014 PIF’s pursestrings have been a little freer, with the fund given authority to invest in new or emerging companies both at home and overseas. It is also no longer required to seek ministerial permission before making investments.

Earlier this month, Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, set the internet and markets alight by claiming “funding [was] secured” to take Tesla private, a move which could cost up to US$70 billion ($97 billion).

With the board reportedly caught off-guard, federal investigators knocking and class action lawsuits launched, Musk admitted he had received positive signals from Saudi investment fund about taking the company private over a series of meetings.

Lucid Motors was co-founded by Bernard Tse, a former Tesla board member, in 2007 and the company’s investors include Chinese automaker BAIC and entrepreneur Jia Yueting, who founded LeEco and is currently CEO of troubled electric car maker Faraday Future.

Last year the company unveiled the Air luxury electric sedan with a 100kWh battery pack, an estimated 650km driving range, and a two-motor setup generating a total of 745kW of power.

The Air is due to go into production later this year at a new factory in Arizona, and the company is currently accepting US$2500 ($3463) refundable deposits.