Elon Musk denies plan for Saudi, UAE funding for SpaceX

SpaceX founder Elon Musk denied reports that the company was pursuing a funding round from investment funds in Saudi Arabia and UAE.
John Loeffler
Elon Musk

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has denied reports that the company is seeking new funding from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Musk tweeted on Friday that the report, which was first published by The Information, was "not true."

The Information report said that part of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) and an Abu Dhabi-based company were planning to invest in a multi-billion dollar funding round for SpaceX.

According to Reuters, the new investments would put the value of the pioneering commercial space firm at $140 billion.

While the reports might not be true, per Musk, it is also possible that Musk is simply trying to tamp down speculation about SpaceX's financial situation. SpaceX is a private company, so it does not need to publically report revenue to shareholders.

The venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz is expected to lead a new funding round for SpaceX in 2023, and it's not known if these reports are tied to that funding effort. According to The Information's reporting, the investment bank Morgan Stanley is involved in the two countries' investment plans. Overall, SpaceX raised $2 billion and $2.6 billion in capital investments in 2022 and 2020, respectively.

What's behind the denial

Assuming the reports about the renewed SpaceX funding from Saudi Arabia and UAE are correct, it's not clear why Musk would deny the reports. The two countries have been major investors in SpaceX in the past. In 2017, Saudi Arabia invested $200 million in SpaceX, and the United Arab Emirates invested $100 million.

Part of the ambiguity could come from the mercurial nature of the company's founder, and the fact that as a private company, Musk does not have to disclose the company's finances to the public.

Musk also has a somewhat controversial history of funding announcements, including the 2018 announcement on Twitter that he had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 a share.

Perhaps coincidentally, that announcement drew the ire of investors and regulators when it failed to materialize, leading to a trial this year where Musk revealed that the PIF governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, has initially backed that plan to take Tesla private and there was some acrimony when the deal failed to come to fruition.

That could definitely lead PIF to be a bit skittish around funding Musk's efforts, at least so publicly, but it remains to be seen if these reports pan out.

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