Elon Musk discusses possibility of Tesla merging with a legacy automaker

In a wide-ranging interview with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner, Elon Musk would consider using Tesla’s mega $554 billion market cap to acquire a legacy automaker, but only if it was on friendly terms, the billionaire entrepreneur said Tuesday.

Musk, who received an award from the media giant on Tuesday, discussed his different interests and companies, especially SpaceX and Tesla, both of which he leads.

Döpfner acknowledged that the valuation of Tesla significantly exceeds the market cap of incumbent automakers such as BMW, Daimler and VW, which once discounted Musk’s potential to make electric vehicles mainstream, along with others in the industry. When asked if buying one of the legacy automakers would be a serious choice, Musk said it was possible, but only under certain conditions.

“Well, I think we’re definitely not going to launch a hostile takeover,” Musk said. “So I suppose if there was a friendly one, if somebody said, ‘Hey, we think it would be a good idea to merge with Tesla,’ we certainly could have that conversation. But, you know, we don’t want it to be a hostile takeover sort of situation.”

Tesla is in an enviable spot today, even though Musk once said that its share price was too high. The company, which will enter the S&P 500 Index on December 21st, is now the world’s most valuable automaker, surpassing competitors who annually manufacture far more vehicles.

Investors have poured cash into Tesla shares primarily because they see it more as a technology company than a car manufacturer, although today the overwhelming majority of their revenue comes from car sales.

Musk noted that in its early days, automakers generally disregarded Tesla.

“When we first unveiled the Roadster in 2007, I mean, it was just basically, they just said, ‘Oh, well, you’re basically a bunch of fools,’ ” Musk remarked, adding that rivals are now far friendlier than in the past.

Musk’s full Award Ceremony and interview is available below.

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