'Tesla needs to prove success is sustainable and that it is based on a solid financial foundation. If they do, they should be an appealing takeover target.'
Buried in the loan agreement text between Tesla Motors and the US Department of Energy were restrictions on the automaker's ability to offer itself for sale. Now that the loan has been paid back early, speculation is ramping up that the company will get snagged by a bigger fish through a sale or a takeover. Bloomberg, in fact, is wondering aloud if Google will take the bait.
Now, before anyone gets all excited that the giant touchscreen in the Model S will get a clever logo redesign every holiday, we've heard unlikely rumors about other companies buying Tesla before (for example, Google's competition, Apple) and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said repeatedly that he isn't going to step down any time soon. In fact, he told Bloomberg last month, "I've said from the very beginning, from the creation of Tesla, that our goal is to create a compelling mass-market car. I would not consider stepping away from Tesla until we're there. We're several years away obviously."
Right now might be a bad time to buy the company anyway, given TSLA stock's high value (over $100 today). In fact, Bloomberg has calculated that Tesla is trading for 816 times(!) its estimated 2013 earnings. If things continue to go well, money-laden companies like Google or another automaker might be interested in the EV builder. The former deputy CEO of Chrysler and onetime Toyota dealer body guru, Jim Press, told Bloomberg that, "Tesla has developed an appealing and credible product with game-changing technology. They need to prove their success is sustainable for the long term and that it is based on a solid financial foundation. If they do, they should be an appealing takeover target."
Currently, Musk controls about 24-percent of Tesla shares. There are more details in the Bloomberg article here and there's a video bit of speculation below.