Elon Musk Risks $100B Payout If Tesla Goes Private

Elon Musk’s series of tweets about taking Tesla Inc. (TSLA) private further enriched shareholders but if a deal actually happens, the outspoken chief executive officer of the electric vehicle maker could be out his $100 billion payout.

According to an analysis by Forbes, Musk’s jaw-dropping $100 billion stock compensation, which was announced a little more than six months ago, vests over 12 tranches with the first kicking in once Tesla reaches $100 billion in market capitalization. Even with the stock closing up 11% Tuesday, its market cap stands at $64.5 billion. (See more: What If Tesla Goes Private?)

Tesla Market Value Not High Enough

In order for Musk to vest the remainder of the stock the market value would have to increase by $50 billion for each tranche. That means Tesla’s market value would have to be $650 billion for Musk to be fully vested, reported Forbes. A buyout at $420 a share wouldn’t get the market value there. Forbes pointed to a statement from the company when the compensation was announced in January. In it, the company said the compensation will be a “100% at-risk performance award, which ensures that he will be compensated only if Tesla and all of its shareholders do extraordinarily well... If none of the 12 tranches is achieved, Elon will not receive any compensation."

Going Private Would Alleviate Pressure

Late Tuesday Musk took Wall Street and investors by surprise by tweeting he is mulling taking Tesla private in a $420-a-share deal. In a subsequent letter to employees, Musk laid out why he is considering it, saying he wants to create the best operational environment for Tesla. “As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders," Musk wrote, according to Forbes. He also said that by taking the electric vehicle company private it would end "negative propaganda from shorts." Tesla is currently the most-shorted U.S. stock and even with short sellers taking a beating in recent days, they have been holding steady with their bets. If Tesla were to go private it would alleviate some pressure for the company that is closely followed. (See more: Tesla Go-Private Talk Cost Shorts Another $1.5B.)

Even if Musk loses out on $100 billion stock payout the executive won’t be destitute. According to Forbes' real-time billionaire ranking, the 47-year-old is worth around $21.3 billion with half of his fortune tied to his majority holding in rocket company SpaceX and his 20% stake in Tesla.

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