Elon Musk has revealed that he does not enjoy being the boss of Tesla. “I rather hate it and I would much prefer to spend my time on design and engineering,” he told a US court. Tesla’s billionaire CEO was speaking at the start of a trial where he is accused of pressuring the firm’s board members into a $2.6bn (£1.9bn) deal to buy a solar panel firm.
Shareholders claim the carmaker’s money was wasted on buying SolarCity, which – they say – was running out of money.
At the time of the deal, Mr Musk owned a 22% stake in both Tesla and the solar panel company, which was founded by his cousins.
“Since it was a stock-for-stock transaction and I owned almost exactly the same percentage of both there was no financial gain,” he said.
‘All part of a master plan’
He also denied exerting pressure on board members, saying that the deal was part of a “master plan” to create affordable vehicles with green power supplies.
Shareholders bringing the case against Mr Musk, who is worth $168bn according to Forbes, have asked the court that he repay Tesla the $2.6bn in full. That would be one of the largest ever judgements against an individual.
Last year, other board members at Tesla settled a lawsuit over the deal for $60m. Those board members, who excluded Mr Musk, did not admit any wrongdoing.
Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said that investors would be watching the case very closely.
The SolarCity deal has been a “black eye” for both Mr Musk and Tesla and a “clear low light” in the company’s rise, he wrote in a note.
Despite that, Tesla shares rose on Monday, closing more than 4% higher.
The trial is expected to last about two weeks. Randall Baron, the attorney for the shareholders, warned the entrepreneur that the case being heard in Delaware Chancery Court was “going to be a grind”.
Gesturing to a thick folder of documents prepared by Mr Baron, Mr Musk replied: “I can tell by the binder.”