Elon Musk says he'll keep Tesla listed as a public company, afterall

First it was the shocking tweet that funding was secured and Tesla may go private, then a statement that the money wasn't locked down after all. Two weeks later it's never mind, the whole deal is off.

Welcome to the disarray of Elon Musk, the impulsive genius and architect of cutting-edge car, rocket and solar panel companies built nearly from scratch.

Chaos, though, comes with a price. Experts say it all could wind up with Tesla exposed to a fine for misleading investors. And even though Musk has almost legendary status, the episode could further erode his credibility with stakeholders who have endured multiple broken promises and years of losses as a public company.

"Prior to the go-private episode, his credibility was in question, although investors still had overall confidence in the guy," Erik Gordon, a business and law professor at the University of Michigan, said Saturday. "This whole go-private episode has taken his credibility close to zero."

The bizarre story began August 7 when Musk, while driving to the airport, tweeted he was considering taking the company private and that funding had been secured for the deal. Investors would be paid US$420 per share, a 23 percent premium over the August 6 closing price. No other details were given, but Tesla's stock shot up 11 percent that day. At US$420, buying all Tesla shares would cost around US$72 billion.

Then, in a blog post six days later, Musk wrote the money wasn't locked down, revealing that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund was the source of the cash but was still doing due diligence. Musk said the Tesla board and some big investors had been told he was considering taking the company private before he tweeted that information. He said he tweeted the disclosure so everyone could have the information.

The electric car, inspired by a popular 1970’s Russian hatchback, is meant to rival Elon Musk’s Tesla Source: Associated Press

Musk, who owns 20 percent of Tesla, also said he expected only a third of shareholders to sell, meaning the deal would be valued around US$24 billion.

Late Friday came a statement from Musk saying that after talking to investors, the plan to go private would be scrubbed. Big institutional investors told him they had limits on how much they could sink into a private company.

The episode drew attention from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which reportedly is investigating Tesla for possible manipulation of the stock price. At least two lawsuits seeking class-action status also have been filed alleging Musk broke securities laws by making it sound like financing for the buyout was lined up.

James Cox, a Duke University professor who specializes in corporate governance and securities law, said regulations prohibit companies from making misleading statements that influence the markets.

"The fact that he's now backing off so quickly, within a matter of weeks, indicates the insincerity in which the first statement was made," Cox said.

While Musk disclosed the possible buy-back on August 7, he didn't reveal all contingencies including that the Saudi fund had to investigate, said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former SEC attorney. "I think his most recent statement shows that this wasn't thought through," Henning said. "That's going to be a concern for the SEC because that's how investors can be misled, with incomplete information."

The SEC also is likely to look at Musk's disclosure to some investors before others, which also is prohibited if there's reason to believe the investors might trade stock based on the information, Cox said.



Black-market home-brew kills Sydney man

Black market home-brew is believed to be behind the death of a 57-year-old Sydney man, prompting a warning from police.

The man was admitted to Liverpool Hospital on September 11 after a fall and police were alerted.

His condition deteriorated through the week until he died on Tuesday.

"Investigators have been advised by health authorities that the man was suffering the effects of acute methanol poisoning, with a post mortem examination still to be conducted," NSW Police said in a statement on Wednesday.

The man was a regular drinker but not to excess, investigators have been told - and the alcohol may have been illegally sourced home-brew.

It's feared the alcohol, known as Rakia or Rakija, is being sold in the community.

Ten bottles of the alcohol have been seized from the man's home in West Hoxton Park and taken for forensic tests.

A report is being prepared for the coroner.

Group of home brew craft beer bottles
Home-brew alcohol (file picture). Source: istock.com


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Reality show doctor and woman allegedly used 'good looks' to lure victims into California drug rapes

A California physician who appeared in a reality TV dating show and an alleged female accomplice have been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting two women, and authorities said today there could be many more victims.

Orthopedic surgeon Grant W. Robicheaux, 38, of Newport Beach and Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, of Brea were arrested September 12 after being charged with rape by use of drugs, oral copulation by anaesthesia or controlled substance, and other crimes, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told a news conference in Santa Ana.

Investigators were meticulously going through "thousands and thousands of videos and images on Robicheaux's phone, many also including Riley," Rackauckas said.

Some videos show women who "appear to be highly intoxicated beyond the ability to consent or resist, and they're barely responsive to the defendant's sexual advances. Based on this evidence, we believe that there might be many unidentified victims out there," he said.

The district attorney showed reporters video of Robicheaux from a now-cancelled Bravo TV show called "Online Dating Rituals of the American Male" in an episode titled "Three's A Crowd."

"We believe the defendants used their good looks and charm to lower the inhibitions of their potential prey," Rackauckas said, releasing an array of information about many locations and events associated with Robicheaux and Riley.

The defendants, who were released on $US100,000 bail, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Grant W. Robicheaux and Cerissa Laura Riley. Source: Associated Press

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North Korea agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced a sweeping set of agreements after their second day of talks in Pyongyang today.

They included a promise by Kim to permanently dismantle the North's main nuclear complex if the United States takes corresponding measures, the acceptance of international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Declaring they had made a major step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula, the two leaders were side by side as they announced the joint statement to a group of North and South Korean reporters after a closed-door meeting today.

"We have agreed to make the Korean Peninsula a land of peace that is free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat," Kim said as he stood by Moon's side at the guesthouse where Moon is staying.

"The road to our future will not always be smooth and we may face challenges and trials we can't anticipate. But we aren't afraid of headwinds because our strength will grow as we overcome each trial based on the strength of our nation."

Kim and Moon earlier smiled and chatted as they walked down a hallway and into a meeting room to finalize the joint statement, which also said that the leaders would push for a Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons and to "eliminate all the danger of war." They agreed that Kim would visit the South in the near future.

The statement caps off the third summit between Kim and Moon, who is under increasing pressure from Washington to find a path forward in its efforts to get Kim to completely — and unilaterally — abandon his nuclear arsenal.

But while containing several tantalising offers, it appears to fall short of the major steps many in Washington had been looking for — such as a commitment by Pyongyang to provide a list of the North's nuclear facilities, a solid step-by-step timeline or an agreement to allow international inspectors in to assess progress or discover violations.

The question is whether it will be enough for President Donald Trump to pick up where Moon has left off.

Trump has maintained that he and Kim have a solid relationship, and both leaders have expressed interest in a follow-up summit to their meeting in June in Singapore. North Korea has been demanding a declaration formally ending the Korean War, which was stopped in 1953 by a cease-fire, but neither leader mentioned it as they read the joint statement.

In the meantime, however, Moon and Kim made concrete moves of their own to reduce tensions on their border.

According a joint statement signed by the countries' defense chiefs, the two Koreas agreed to establish buffer zones along their land and sea borders to reduce military tensions and prevent accidental clashes. They also agreed to withdraw 11 guard posts from the Demilitarized Zone by December and to establish a no-fly zone above the military demarcation line that bisects the two Koreas that will apply to planes, helicopters and drones.

Though not directly linked to security, the leaders' announcement that they would seek a joint Summer Olympics was a significant move in terms of easing tensions and building trust. It also flows from the North's decision to participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Games in February, which was regarded as a success for both sides.

Other agreements aimed at removing some longstanding irritants from their relations — such as allowing more contact between families divided by the Korean War. Moon also appeared to be making good on his proposals to help build up the North's infrastructure and open cross-border rail links.

Unlike Mr Trump's initial tweets praising the summit, the news brought a quick and negative response from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who tweeted he was concerned the visit would undermine efforts by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to impose "maximum pressure" on Pyongyang.

"While North Korea has stopped testing missiles and nuclear devices, they have NOT moved toward denuclearization," he tweeted.
With the main business of the day over, North Korea was expected to hold a huge mass games spectacle in the evening, with Moon as the special guest.

The North had put the iconic games, which feature tens of thousands of performers dancing and flipping placards in unison to create giant mosaics and slogans, on a back burner for the past several years, but revived them for this month's celebrations of its 70th founding anniversary. In a performance for the anniversary, a giant photo of Moon and Kim shaking hands at their first summit in April was projected onto one side of the stands in Pyongyang's 150,000-seat May Day Stadium.

In this image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System (KBS),  North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in shake hands at the end of their joint press conference in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (Korea Broadcasting System via AP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in shake hands at the end of their joint press conference in Pyongyang, North Korea. Source: Associated Press


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Vodafone's 'unlimited' mobile plan comes under Commerce Commission scrutiny

The Commerce Commission has started an investigation into Vodafone's "unlimited" mobile plan launched in July which has a number of restrictions listed on the plan's promo page.

The NZ Herald reports the question is whether the "limited" factors are sufficiently prominent. 

The news outlet's online report says the ComCom refused any comment while its investigation was open.

The restrictions are listed on Vodafone's Unlimited Mobile promo page, but only after you click a link labelled "Important things to know".

Vodafone's "Unlimited Mobile" plan is $79.99 a month and NZ Herald says like "unlimited" plans launched earlier by rivals Spark and 2degrees, it has a number of limits.

These include speed being reduced from 4G to 3G if a customer downloads more than 22GB of mobile data within a month, and streaming video restricted to standard definition.

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said the company is "working through the details with the Commission and will co-operate fully with their investigation".

The regulator last month laid 10 charges against Vodafone under the Fair Trading Act for billing beyond the date of some customers' notice period.

In another legal action, the commission is targeting Vodafone's Fibre X marketing campaign.

More companies have gone into streamlining health and safety features such as picking up your arrival using  your phone and printing out your name tag ready to go when you arrive.
Source: 1 NEWS