Will Tesla Be Taken Over by Ford, Apple or Toyota?

The NYU professor who foresaw that Whole Foods Market would be taken over by Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) is now predicting that troubled electric carmaker Tesla Inc. (TSLA) will become an acquisition target in the near future.

NYU professor Scott Galloway expects shares of the Silicon Valley car company to plunge by 50% in the next year, making it prey to a takeover by a competitor such as Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) or Daimler AG. He also views it as likely that tech giants with ambitions to lead in autonomous vehicle technology such as Apple Inc. (AAPL) or Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) could buy Tesla, according to a detailed story in Business Insider.

Ford Motor Co. (F) is cited as another possible buyer in a recent Fortune magazine story.

Who Might Buy Tesla

  • Ford; $38.2 billion
  • Toyota; $196.4 billion
  • Daimler AG; $56.3 billion
  • Apple; $813 billion
  • Alphabet; $772.6 billion

Source: Business Insider, Investopedia

A takeover would amount to a drastic fall from grace for Tesla, once regarded as the glamorous electric car brand led by visionary entrepreneur and CEO Elon Musk. "I think investors are finally getting fed up,” said Galloway in a Recode podcast, per BI. "My prediction is within 12 months Tesla is sub $100 per share and it probably gets acquired because there's real value there."

Tesla, whose value was around $65 billion two years ago -- then far more valuable than General Motor Co. (GM) -- has been criticized for burning through cash and failing to turn a profit. At the core of its woes are production and cost issues with its first mass market vehicle, the Model 3 sedan. Some bears now call Tesla a “restructuring” play rather than a growth story.

Tesla's value has decreased by roughly 50% since its peak in 2017 to $33 billion today. A continued fall as forecasted by Galloway, down to around $17 billion, would make it easily digestible by acquirers such as Apple and Google, per the NYU professor. Both companies, with market values of $819 billion and nearly $775 billion respectively, are keen in developing autonomous vehicle technology.

If Tesla did fall by 50% it would be a tiny fraction of the market value of each of the two tech titans. Galloway estimates the hypothetical deal’s total value between $20 billion to $25 billion.

While GM and Ford are possible buyers, Tesla's value would have to fall drastically -- to less than $10 billion -- to make a deal viable, wrote David Whiston, equity strategist in U.S. autos for Morningstar Research Services, in an email to Fortune. The odds of either automaker buying Tesla “could only potentially happen if Tesla’s stock fell well into the single digit billion market cap because it’d be too expensive for GM or Ford otherwise,” wrote Whiston, adding that GM or Ford “would rather try to compete with Tesla than buy it.” (For related reading, see "Who are Tesla's (TSLA) Main Competitors?")

Looking Ahead

While Tesla’s desperation could make the automaker an attractive takeover target, CEO Musk is likely to be the wild card. “He’d have to be willing to sell his roughly 22% stake and in my opinion that’s something he would only do if it was the only way to keep Tesla alive,” Whiston told Fortune.