Tesla shares fall 5 percent on Wall St scepticism, SEC probe reports

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The reference to the company's stock is particularly relevant because Tesla shares immediately skyrocketed in the wake of Musk's tweet.

It's possible Musk could persuade some large institutional and strategic investors to either newly become or remain shareholders in the private company, which could reduce his funding needs, said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein who has always been bearish on Tesla shares.

In a statement on Wednesday, six Board members said Elon Musk brought up the proposal to them on making Tesla private and how to achieve its long-term interests as a private company, Xinhua news agency reported. Regulators have asked the company if what Musk tweeted was factual and why such a disclosure was made via social media rather than in a filing, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. It was also discovered that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) had a acquired a sizable stake in Tesla in a series of open market transactions through JPMorgan.

Tesla said on Wednesday the discussions had addressed the issue of how to fund such a deal, but gave no details.

Mr Musk said in a tweet on Tuesday that he had secured financing for the deal, but he did not publicly provide further details.

Short sellers, who bet that shares will fall and have been a longtime irritant to Musk, increased their positions slightly on Thursday.

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Some Wall Street analysts are skeptical about Musk's ability to garner enormous financial support to complete such an agreement, given Tesla's losses, its United States $ 10.9 billion in debt and its bonds rated in speculative territory by global agencies. "And if you stay as a shareholder you get less information than before and you depend more and more on Elon Musk". Tesla shares fell $17.89 to $352.45, or 4.8 per cent, valuing the company at $60.1 billion.

Some are speculating the recent moves could all be part of a Musk plot to punish the short-sellers.

Musk's use of Twitter to announce a huge deal also raised eyebrows, but that probably didn't violate any laws, Coffee and Henning said.

"Basically, I'm trying to accomplish an outcome where Tesla can operate at its best, free from as much distraction and short-term thinking as possible, and where there is as little change for all of our investors, including all of our employees, as possible", Musk wrote in the letter.

Some on Wall Street shared that view. Musk previously said that the company would hit that number by the end of 2017 and that sustaining such a production rate is critical for Tesla to become profitable.

In turn, an internal Tesla market could encourage smaller investors to hold onto their stock, lowering the amount of money, which could be tens of billions, that Musk must raise for the buyout.

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