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Tesla IPO Goal: $178 Million

If it hits the high end of its target range, Elon Musk's electric carmaker would be valued at $1.5 billion.

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Electric carmaker Tesla Motors – which has never posted an annual profit since its founding in 2003 – now says it hopes to raise up to $178 million through an initial public offering, according to a prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. If the offering is successful, Tesla would net another $8 million through a previous agreement with Toyota.

In its initial stock-registration filing on January 29, the company – founded by Inc.'s 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year Elon Musk – had expected proceeds of $100 million. No date for the initial public offering was listed then; the new documents say it's expected the week of June 28.

The company and its stockholders will sell 11.1 million shares, or 12 percent of the company, for $14 to $16 each. The "highly anticipated" offering values the company at about $1.5 billion, according to IPO research firm Renaissance Capital. (Musk himself should make about $21 million from the sale.)

Based on the terms of a deal announced in May, Toyota will then buy $50 million in shares just after the offering closes. In return, Tesla will pay Toyota $42 million for the Japanese carmaker's now-closed Nummi factory in California. The factory – formerly a joint venture between Toyota and General Moters – will be used to build Tesla's Model S electric sedan, its second car. (Its first is the $109,000 Roadster, of which the company has sold 1,063 while losing $290 million.)

Tesla is charging forward with its IPO even though the European debt crisis has prompted more than 30 companies to postpone or withdraw IPOs since May. Tesla says it expects to continue losing money until the Model S – a four-door family sedan – hits the market in 2012. The Model S will sell for $49,900 – the price made possible through a federal-tax credit.

Tesla's net loss in the first quarter of 2010 was $29.5 million, compared with $16 million in the same period last year. Musk poured more than $70 million of his own money into Tesla before May 2009, when Daimler – the world's second biggest luxury car company – invested $50 million. In June 2009, Tesla won a $465 million loan from the U.S. government to build the Model S and the battery packs needed to propel it. (Under the terms of the federal loan, Musk must keep 65 percent of his stock for at least a year after finishing the Model S project.)

In Tuesday's filing, Tesla reiterated plans to develop a third electric car.

"We intend to offer this vehicle at a lower price point and expect to produce it at higher volumes than our planned Model S," the company said. "We expect that this vehicle will be produced a few years after the introduction of the Model S." 

Last updated: Jun 16, 2010

COURTNEY RUBIN

Inc. contributing editor Courtney Rubin was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.




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