Tesla's third-largest shareholder says it's willing to pump more money into the company

Key Points
  • Baillie Gifford, which holds a 7.72 percent stake in Tesla, called CEO Elon Musk an entrepreneur of "vision and ambition, who's working towards a social good."
  • Tesla posted a $311.5 million net profit in the third quarter — its first in two years — as well as $881 million in free cash flow.
  • Musk has come under heightened scrutiny over his presence on Twitter.
Tesla's third-largest shareholder ready to pony up more capital

Baillie Gifford, Tesla's third-largest shareholder, said it is willing to inject more capital into the electric car manufacturer.

The investment manager, which holds a 7.72 percent stake in Tesla, said it backed CEO Elon Musk's long-term ambitions for the company, calling him an entrepreneur of "vision and ambition, who's working towards a social good."

"If he needs more capital we would be willing to back him," Nick Thomas, partner at Baillie Gifford, told The Times of London Monday. Baillie Gifford confirmed to CNBC that Thomas had made those comments to the newspaper, but declined to comment further.

Tesla scored its first quarterly profit in two years in the third quarter, the company revealed in its results last week. The automaker posted a $311.5 million net profit and $881 million in free cash flow.

The electric car manufacturer had been struggling with production bottlenecks and burning through cash at a rate of almost $1 billion per quarter.

Its boss has also come under heightened scrutiny over his presence on Twitter. He is being sued for libel by a British cave diver who aided the mission to rescue a boys soccer team and their coach in Thailand earlier this year, who he labelled a "pedo" in a July tweet.

And Musk was forced to pay out a $20 million fine — and Tesla an additional $20 million — in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission after a tweet he wrote in August saying he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share. "Funding secured," he said at the time — only to backtrack later that month, saying the firm would remain publicly traded. Musk will also step down as the company's chairman as a result of the settlement.

On Saturday, Musk said in a Twitter post that the SEC ordeal was "worth it."


He has also attacked investors who bet against Tesla stock publicly on his Twitter account, going as far as to accuse asset management giant BlackRock of helping short sellers through securities lending. BlackRock declined to comment on Musk's comments when contacted by CNBC at the time.

Shares of Tesla were slightly higher in U.S. premarket trading Monday, up by 0.6 percent.

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