A German magazine reported Thursday Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess was interested in purchasing either a share of American electric car manufacturer Tesla, or all of it.
That report, in Manager Magazin, suggested Tesla CEO Elon Musk was preparing documents that would lead to a potential buyout by Volkswagen.
“Diess would go in right away if he could,” the magazine quoted one of Diess’ top managers saying.
The news caused Tesla shares to jump 2% in premarket trading and another 1% in early Thursday trading.
But, what is given can also be taken away.
Later in the morning (or day, if you’re in Germany), those gains were virtually erased after a Volkswagen spokesman, Pietro Zollino, told CNBC the report was “completely unfounded,” calling the Manager report “pure speculation.”
After topping out at $225.19 a share at 9:36 a.m. EDT, Tesla had sank to $219.81 a share by 10:40 a.m., about 0.5% down for the day.
One would only have to ask why Volkswagen would want to get in bed with Tesla.
Here you have two companies that are kind of a hot mess.
With Volkswagen, you have a German company still reeling from a diesel scandal that cost its former CEO Martin Winterkorn his job, and tacked on the possibility of prison time after the company was found to be using devices to cheat emissions tests in the United States and, subsequently, in Europe.
The company was forced to pay billions in recalls and fines as a result.
Then, you have Tesla. Oh, Tesla.
With Musk you have an individual known for floating fake potential investment just to drive up his own stock price.
Last year, Musk tweeted “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
After that, Musk suggested Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund would finance taking the company private. Shares skyrocketed, but the claim turned out to be false, leading to Musk settling fraud charges.
As you hear on Shark Tank: “For those reasons, I’m out.”
But, another point to consider is the price tag.
How in the world would Volkswagen or Diess ever get the blessing from the Piech family or the Porsche family — which own Volkswagen — to shell out nearly $30 billion to buy Tesla?
It would likely be cheaper for Volkswagen to develop electric vehicles itself, using its own infrastructure and not buy Tesla in hopes of leap-frogging the competition.
Even if that purchase were a possibility, it would be difficult for Volkswagen to come close to the strides their German brothers in Bavaria (BMW) have pulled off.
While the news of a potential takeover didn’t come directly from Musk this time, he did see some benefit … at least early in the morning.
But, like with the recent Tesla news, it all seems to go downhill from there.