Elon Musk to forgo pay and bonuses until Tesla passes its milestones

In our fortnightly round-up of what the world’s billionaires are up to, we look at the electric car maker’s all-or-nothing incentive scheme

Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla, arrives at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition II in Hawthorne, California, U.S., August 27, 2017.  REUTERS/Mike Blake
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Elon Musk

Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk will receive no salary or cash bonuses from Tesla and all his compensation as chief executive of the electric car maker will be tied to stock and operational milestones, the company said on Tuesday.

The plan envisions the company's market value ballooning to US$650 billion over the next decade - 10 times the current size of General Motors - and knocks back speculation that Mr Musk may be planning to quit Tesla any time soon.

If Tesla hits that mark and Mr Musk achieves all his targets, vesting all stock options, his remuneration will add up to $78 billion. Also, his current 20 per cent stake in the company will be worth $130bn.

The new long-term plan, modelled after Mr Musk's 2012 performance award but more directly linked to the company's performance, was unveiled after Tesla's much-anticipated Model 3 sedan missed a series of production targets.

The delays and Tesla's high cash burn rate has worried Wall Street that Mr Musk's ambition to build the company into a behemoth will severely stretch its production capabilities.

Tesla's shares gained 46 per cent last year.

At $650 billion, Tesla would be the fourth-largest company in the S&P 500 index today, just ahead of Amazon.com and exceeded only by Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft.

The company currently has a market value of roughly $60bn.

Tesla said on Tuesday that the new compensation plan calls for Musk to be remunerated only if Tesla performs "extraordinarily well" and the milestones requires him to remain as chief executive or serve as both executive chairman and chief product officer.

"This ensures that Elon will continue to lead Tesla's management over the long-term while also providing the flexibility to bring in another CEO who would report to Elon at some point in the future," Tesla said, adding that there was no current intention for this to happen.

The new performance award consists of a 10-year grant of stock options that vest in 12 tranches that are tied to milestones.

The California company's market capitalisation must increase to $100bn for the first tranche to vest and must continue to increase in additional $50bn increments for the remaining 11 tranches, it said.

Mr Musk, also Tesla's chairman, was an early investor in the company and is now its biggest shareholder.

A serial entrepreneur, he has founded several companies, including rocket maker SpaceX and The Boring Company. His net worth is about $20 billion, according to Forbes.

Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House Group, speaks during an interview in London, U.K., on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Brexit makes us focus more on U.K. industry, Gupta said during a Bloomberg Television interview.  Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House Group. Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Sanjeev Gupta

British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta is set to bid for industrial assets at General Motors’s former Holden manufacturing site in South Australia, according to the state’s treasurer, aiming to use the equipment to build electric vehicles.

If successful, the purchase would bring Australia’s now defunct car manufacturing industry back to life, and add to a string of ambitious investments by Mr Gupta, executive chairman of GFG Alliance, that include plans to use solar energy to power steel-making operations.

“Based on discussions I have had with the GFG Alliance I understand that, should they be the successful bidder, they intend to develop the site as a manufacturing base for an electric vehicle,” South Australia state treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said in a letter to General Motors, that was released to Reuters earlier this month.

GFG Alliance wants to use technology developed by its partner, Gordon Murray Design, to build the electric cars, Mr Koutsantonis said.

GFG Alliance and GM Holden declined to comment on the proposal. The industrial assets will be sold as part of a global auction.

Australia’s near 100-year automotive industry came to end in October after GM shut its plant to move manufacturing to cheaper locations. The closure came a year after Toyota and Ford also moved out, eliminating thousands of manufacturing jobs.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other lawmakers have met with Mr Gupta, who recently rescued Australian steel maker Arrium’s Whyalla plant and outlined ambitious plans to develop large scale solar and battery projects to help power the plant in South Australia.

Andrej Babis, billionaire and leader of the ANO party, gestures as he speaks during an interview in Prague, Czech Republic, on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Babis, who is likely to become the next Czech prime minister, wants to expand the country’s nuclear energy capacity without the help of foreign investors. Photographer: Martin Divisek/Bloomberg
A case against Czech prime minister Andrej Babis, billionaire and leader of the ANO party, has not dented his popularity in the country. Photographer: Martin Divisek / Bloomberg

Andrej Babis

Czech lawmakers have stripped Prime Minister Andrej Babis of his immunity to let prosecutors renew fraud charges in a case that has hamstrung the billionaire's efforts to create a government after his euroskeptic party ANO dominated last year's elections.

Mr Babis, who rejects allegations of wrongdoing in the case of suspected misuse of European Union funds by a company he once owned, denounced the charges earlier this month as an organised attempt to torpedo his political career. Still, he and one of his executives who is also a senior member of his ANO party asked parliament to lift their protection from prosecution before a parliamentary vote made it official.

As other leaders in the EU’s eastern wing also struggle to consolidate power amid corruption and other criminal investigations, the Czech probe has blocked Mr Babis’s attempt to form a cabinet. After ANO won October elections but fell short of a majority, Mr Babis’s preferred partners have rejected working with anyone who may face prosecution. The case, which has been investigated by the EU’s OLAF anti-fraud office, has not dented the popularity of the second-richest Czech, who’s the most popular politician in the country of 10.6 million.

“It’s an order by the mafia that has stolen billions here,” Mr Babis told lawmakers before the vote. “We live in a country where you can order prosecution and probably get someone into prison.”

Mr Babis’s comments drew a rebuke from Chief Prosecutor Pavel Zeman, who said that unfounded claims of the manipulation of legal procedures were damaging the reputation of the judiciary system. Mr Zeman’s complaint follows accusations from EU leaders that other eastern member governments - particularly in Poland and Hungary - are eroding democracy and the rule of law.

"It’s sad that politicians are undermining the credibility of the judiciary, which has no means to defend itself," the CTK news service quoted Zeman as saying. "They’re also undermining the trust in justice as one of the main values forming the foundation of our society."

Without immunity, police can renew the charges that they filed last year but that were rendered invalid when Mr Babis’s immunity was renewed when he was elected. The case, which includes charges against more people, including the premier’s wife, is centered around the suspected misuse of a 50 million-koruna (US$2.4 million) EU subsidy at the Stork Nest recreation center. The site once belonged to Mr Babis’s business empire, which includes chemical and food firms as well as the country’s two largest newspapers.

Billionaire Lee Shau-kee, chairman of Henderson Land Development Co., attends a news conference in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. Lee, who announced the private donation of a 63,000 square feet (5,853 square meters) site to charity group Po Leung Kuk for a youth hostel, said Hong Kong home prices are near its peak as more supply is coming. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Lee Shau-kee
Billionaire Lee Shau-kee. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

Lee Shau-kee

Sharing Economy International, a Chinese textile machinery maker with blockchain ambitions, said it’s pursuing the acquisition of a boutique hotel from Hong Kong property billionaire Lee Shau-kee.

A unit of Sharing Economy is offering to buy the Mira Moon Hotel from Lee’s Hong Kong-listed hospitality company, Miramar Hotel & Investment Company, for about HK$1.35 billion ($173m), chief operating officer Parkson Yip said in a phone interview on Tuesday. Mr Yip said he hopes for a deal to be finalised by the end of next month.

US-listed Sharing Economy, which has a market value of about $17.8m, recently changed its name from Cleantech Solutions International as it started to pursue investments in businesses related to the sharing economy as well as blockchain technology. The Hong Kong-based company had $4.8mof cash and equivalents at the end of September, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Sharing Economy said last week that a subsidiary entered into an exclusivity agreement to potentially buy a majority stake in Quik Ventures, which runs a platform for sharing underused office space.

Mr Yip said the company is still considering how it could apply a similar business model to Mira Moon, a 91-room hotel near Hong Kong’s bustling Causeway Bay shopping district. Mira Moon is a part of Marriott International's Design Hotels network of independent hotels and uses the hospitality giant’s Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programme.

A representative for Miramar said the company has no plans to dispose of the property.

Shares of Miramar have risen 2.4 per cent this year, giving the company a market value of $1.3Bn. It also owns The Mira, a five-star hotel in Hong Kong where whistle-blower Edward Snowden stayed during his hideout in the city. Besides its hotels, Miramar operates several upmarket restaurants including Cuisine Cuisine and Tsui Hang Village.

Mr Lee, 89, ranks as Hong Kong's second-richest person with a net worth of $25.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Miramar is 48.3 per cent owned by Henderson Land Development, which is controlled by Mr Lee's family and ranks as the city's third-largest developer by market value, its annual report shows.

Sharing Economy shareholders approved the company’s name change in December. The firm also makes dyeing and finishing equipment for the textile industry, its website shows.