Big Shareholder to Tesla: Settle Down And Execute


Tesla Inc.’s (TSLA) Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s outspoken nature is weighing on more than just short sellers, it’s raising the ire of at least one big shareholder who wants the company to focus more on execution and less on the noise and distractions.

During an interview with Bloomberg at the Allen & Co. Sun Valley conference, James Anderson, a partner and portfolio manager at Baillie Gifford & Co., which is the green car company’s fourth largest shareholder, said that while the firm is supportive of Tesla they would like “peace and execution at this stage,” noting that it would be good for the company to “concentrate on the core task.” After all, the company is trying to ramp up production of its Model 3 sedan amid a series of setbacks and delays. While it reached its target in early July to produce 5,000 Model 3 sedans per week, some on Wall Street are questioning if the pace is sustainable. (See more: Tesla’s Production Rate Not Sustainable: CFRA.)

While Anderson didn’t call out Musk specifically and didn’t elaborate, Musk has been making news lately and not only about production snafus with the Model 3 sedan. With Tesla struggling to ramp up production of its latest green car, Musk has been making some eyebrow-raising comments such as during a recent earnings conference call in which he pushed back on or ignored questions from analysts. He called an inquiry into Model 3 deliveries “boring” and “dry.” His actions on that quarterly earnings conference call in May prompted a sell-off in shares.  

Musk Attacks Journalists, Implies Sabotage Among The Ranks

Musk also attacked journalists on the same conference call insinuating that the media was to blame for autopilot accidents because of their coverage. “If the press is hounding the regulators, and the public is living under the misapprehension that autonomy is less safe because of the misleading press, then this is where I find the challenge predicting it to be very difficult,” Musk said. “And, yeah, it’s really incredibly irresponsible of any journalists with integrity to write an article that would lead people to believe that autonomy is less safe. Because people might actually turn it off, and then die.” (See more: Tesla Facing 3rd Big Probe From Calif. Regulators.)

More recently Musk penned a letter to employees (obtained by CNBC) in which he said an employee has engaged in “quite extensive and damaging sabotage” to the business including changing the code on an internal product and sharing data with people outside the company. In a subsequent email about a factory fire, Musk alluded to the sabotage as well. In 2016 when a SpaceX rocket exploded before an engine test Musk looked into the potential for sabotage among the employee ranks, according to CNBC.  

Tweets Are For Good Too

But the outspoken CEO’s antics aren’t always negative. Last week he said on Twitter he was sending engineers from two of his companies to help rescuers in Thailand free the boys’ soccer team that had been trapped in a cave for nearly two weeks. The boys and the coach were rescued by divers earlier this week.

According to Bloomberg Baillie Gifford owns 12.8 million shares of Tesla as of the end of March, which gives the stake a value of more than $4 billion. Musk, T.Rowe Price and FMR are the only investors who hold a larger stake in Tesla, noted Bloomberg.

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