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August 23, 2018 6:00 PM, EDT

Elon Musk Hires Morgan Stanley to Potentially Help Take Tesla Private

Elon Musk Elon Musk by Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press

Elon Musk has hired Morgan Stanley to assist him in his potential bid to take Tesla Inc. private, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Morgan Stanley is advising Musk, not the company, its board or a special board committee formed to evaluate a potential take-private proposal, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The bank suspended coverage of the stock Aug. 21 without explanation.

Musk, 47, shocked the financial world Aug. 7 when the CEO tweeted that he wanted to take the electric-car maker private and had “funding secured.” In a blog post, he later indicated that no such financing deal had been closed. The tweet has drawn a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Morgan Stanley logo on a computer screen

Richard Drew/Associated Press

By adding Morgan Stanley to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Musk has tied up the top two merger advisers in the United States this year. Both banks have been lead underwriters on most of the company’s stock and convertible debt offerings. Morgan Stanley is among Tesla’s 20 largest shareholders, with a 0.6% stake. Its Tesla analyst, Adam Jonas, has historically been one of the more bullish researchers of the stock.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based automaker didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Tesla shares were little changed in late afternoon Aug. 23 at $321.15. After a roller coaster month in which they soared to almost $380 before falling back below $300, they are up 3.3% this year, best among U.S. automakers.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have long-standing ties to Musk, who also is CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. as well as Tesla’s chairman and largest shareholder. As of February 2017, Musk owed Morgan Stanley $344.4 million in personal loans backed by his Tesla shares.

— With assistance by David Welch