Tesla will buy the solar panel maker SolarCity Corp. in an all-stock deal worth around $2.6 billion.
The deal must still be approved by the government and shareholders at both companies. It's expected to close in the fourth quarter if it goes through.
Tesla, a 13-year-old maker of electric cars and energy storage systems, said Monday that the tie-up would create a one-stop shop for cleaner energy. With one service call, customers could get their solar panels installed and connected to Tesla's Powerwall storage unit, which preserves energy for later use. Users could also get the system hooked up to chargers for one of Tesla's vehicles.
"This is really all part of solving the sustainable energy problem," said Elon Musk, the chairman and biggest shareholder of both companies, during a conference call.
But some have questioned the wisdom of the deal, which combines two money-losing companies that already have a lot on their plates. Tesla is working feverishly on its new, lower-cost Model 3 sedan, which is due out by the end of next year, and Musk recently said the company is also working on electric buses and semi-trucks. And SolarCity said Monday that it experienced lower-than-expected residential bookings in the first half of the year, so it's reducing its full-year guidance for megawatts installed to a range of 900 to 1,000 megawatts. Its previous outlook had been for 1,000 to 1,100 megawatts.
Others have questioned the conflicts of interest in the deal. Musk owns a 26 percent stake in Tesla Motors Inc., based in Palo Alto, California, and a 22.5 percent stake in SolarCity, which is based in nearby San Mateo, California. Musk's cousin, Lyndon Rive, runs SolarCity.
SolarCity's stock slid more than 6 percent to $25.07 in early trading Monday. Tesla's shares fell 2 percent to $231.01.
But Musk said the companies have a lot of synergies that they can't take advantage of unless they're combined.
"The point of the merger is to get rid of the conflicts," he said. "Until then it's very limited what we can do unless we are one company."
Musk said he had no role in establishing the value of the deal.
"I know about as much as you do about how this price was obtained," he said.
Musk said he believes the companies could save $150 million to $200 million in the first year alone by streamlining manufacturing, sales and service. Customers could learn about SolarCity products at Tesla's stores, for example, and save on installation costs because they'd be done more efficiently.
The buyout gives SolarCity Corp. stockholders 0.110 Tesla common shares per SolarCity share, which puts the value of SolarCity stock at $25.37 per share. Tesla previously said it would offer $23.56 to $25.30 per SolarCity share.
The deal may draw more attention to the financial position of both companies. Tesla has lost $1.2 billion in the past two years alone while SolarCity has suffered losses exceeding $1.1 billion during the same span. Analysts surveyed by FactSet are predicting a $416 million loss from Tesla this year while they believe SolarCity will lose $851 million.
SolarCity has a 45-day "go-shop" period in which it can solicit alternative acquisition proposals. It will have to pay Tesla a $78.2 million termination fee unless it ends the deal with Tesla in order to enter an agreement with a third party that initially made an alternative offer before the "go-shop" period ended. In such an instance, SolarCity would pay a $26.1 million termination fee, according to a regulatory filing.
Musk said if someone makes a better offer for SolarCity, he has committed to vote his shares with that offer.