Elon Musk took the witness stand Monday in a Wilmington, Delaware court and defended Tesla's $2.6 billion purchase of SolarCity from a shareholder lawsuit…
which alleges he strong-armed Tesla’s board into making the purchase.
Not only did Musk testify that those accusations are wrong – he told the court that he wished he didn’t even have be the CEO of the electric car company, saying he did not enjoy the job.
In Monday’s more than one hour-long testimony and cross examination, Musk said " I tried very hard not to be the CEO of Tesla, but I have to or frankly Tesla is going to die.”
Testimony from the billionaire entrepreneur kicked off the two-week trial, where shareholders are looking to recoup that $2.6 billion Musk paid for the ailing solar panel maker.
The lawsuit by union pension funds and asset managers allegesMusk strong-armed Tesla's board to buy SolarCity, just as it was about to run out of cash. Musk owned a 22% stake in SolarCity, which was founded by his cousins.
Musk pushed back against that notion from the witness stand, saying he did not control the appointment of Tesla's board members or their compensation and that they negotiated the SolarCity deal and its economic terms without his influence.
Legal experts said the judge will be looking for evidence that Musk threatened board members or that directors felt they could not stand up to him.
If Musk is forced by the courts to repay what Tesla spent on the deal, that would represent one of the largest judgments ever against an individual.
Even if the judge finds the deal was unfair, Musk could be ordered to pay a much lower amount of damages.