Elon Musk, at trial, says he was sure Saudis backed taking Tesla private

By Hyunjoo Jin and Jody Godoy SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Elon Musk testified on Monday that he was sure he had backing from Saudi financiers in 2018 to take Tesla Inc

private, as he defended against claims he defrauded investors by tweeting later that year about his electric car company. At a trial in San Francisco federal court, Musk

told the investors' lawyer Nicholas Porritt that he had met with representatives of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, at Tesla's Fremont,

California, factory on July 31, 2018, and that "PIF unequivocally wanted to take Tesla private." The trial tests Musk's penchant for taking to Twitter to air his sometimes

irreverent views, and when the world's second-richest person can be held liable for crossing a line. At stake are millions of dollars for shareholders who claim they

suffered losses after Musk tweeted in August 2018 that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private at $420 per share, and that "investor support is confirmed." Tesla's

stock price surged after Musk's tweets, and later fell as it became clear the buyout would not happen. A jury of nine will decide whether Musk artificially inflated Tesla's

share price by touting the buyout's prospects, and if so by how much. The plaintiffs have already cleared high legal hurdles in the rare securities class action, with U.S.

Judge Edward Chen ruling last May that Musk's post was untruthful and reckless. Musk began testifying on Friday, telling jurors that while Twitter, which he bought in

October, was the most democratic way to communicate, his tweets did not always affect Tesla stock the way he expects.