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Tesla seeks up to US$2.3b from share, debt issues

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Tesla Inc launched issues of new shares and debt worth more than US$2 billion on Thursday, with Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk pitching in US$10 million as the electric carmaker gave in to Wall Street pressure to bolster its cash reserves.

[NEW YORK] Tesla Inc launched issues of new shares and debt worth more than US$2 billion on Thursday, with Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk pitching in US$10 million as the electric carmaker gave in to Wall Street pressure to bolster its cash reserves.

Analysts have been predicting for months that Tesla would need to raise funds for its expansion plans, which include the construction of a factory in Shanghai, the upcoming Model Y SUV, and the crucial ramp up of Model 3 sedan production.

Shares in the Silicon Valley company rose more than 5 per cent on news of the capital raise plan, which follows Mr Musk's hint last week that a fund-raising was imminent after Tesla lost US$700 million in the first quarter.

The company said in the filing that it would seek to raise US$650 million in new shares and US$1.35 billion in debt, with underwriters having the option to buy an additional 15 per cent of each offering, potentially raising the proceeds to US$2.3 billion.

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Market voices on:

"This was a smart move by Musk and Tesla to rip the band-aid off and go to the capital markets," Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities said in a note.

"The growing worries around capital were a black cloud over the stock on the heels of the company's troubled March results and the choppy path ahead."

In first-quarter results that disappointed many on Wall Street last week, Mr Musk promised the company would deliver a profit again by the third quarter of this year, but the company's huge investments mean it is leaking cash swiftly.

Tesla expects capital expenditures of US$2 billion to US$2.5 billion this year and about US$2.5 billion to US$3 billion annually for the next two fiscal years. It ended its first quarter with US$2.2 billion in cash.

Analysts said last week that the company would probably seek between US$1 billion and US$3 billion dollars, and that it would cost significantly more than it would have a year ago, when some on Wall Street were already calling for a capital raise.

Tesla has raised funds through bank loans, several rounds of equity sales, issued convertible notes, a junk bond sale, securitisation of its vehicle leases and solar asset-backed notes.

A previous issue of shares in 2017 went at US$262 a share, compared to the company's current price of US$246. The yield on its existing US$1.8 billion junk bond rose to 8.42 per cent on Friday in anticipation of the new issuance, more than 3 percentage points above its 5.3 per cent coupon.

REUTERS