Short-seller Chanos calls Tesla-SolarCity merger 'crazy': CNBC conference

September 13, 2016 12:41 PM EDT

A man looks around Tesla Motors' Model S P85 at its showroom in Beijing January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo


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By Jennifer Ablan and Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The prominent short-seller Jim Chanos, founder of Kynikos Associates, on Tuesday called the proposed merger of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) and SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ: SCTY) "crazy," noting that the combined company would need constant access to capital markets.

Chanos said it would be the "height of folly" for Tesla shareholders to vote to bail out SolarCity, which he added has an "uneconomic" business model.

Chanos estimates the combined company could have a cash burn of roughly $1 billion per quarter.

"To burden your own balance sheet and cash flow statement to, in effect, bail out shareholders at SolarCity strikes us as just the height of folly," he said at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference in New York.

Chanos had previously disclosed his bet against the shares of both companies in the spring.

SolarCity shares were down about 5.4 percent in late trading and shares in Tesla were down about 2 percent.

Chanos, who rose to fame in the hedge-fund world predicting the collapse of Enron Corp in 2001, was reminded by the panel moderator that Tesla never seems to have trouble raising equity or debt.

Chanos responded: "Until they do."

"A lot of people aren't paying attention to the actual financial statements" of the companies and the risks for Tesla, Chanos said.

Chanos said Tesla and SolarCity chief Elon Musk's heavy reliance on borrowing from the capital markets contrasts with the approach of Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos.

"This is the anti-Amazon," Chanos said. "What made Amazon great ... is that they didn't need capital."

(Reporting by Jennifer Ablan and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Richard Chang and Dan Grebler)



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