Musk eyes $346m payday as Tesla market value soars

Tesla CEO Elon Musk dances onstage during a delivery event for the electric vehicle giant’s China-made Model 3 in Shanghai earlier this month. (Reuters)
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Updated 15 January 2020

Musk eyes $346m payday as Tesla market value soars

  • Shares surge by 10 percent after billionaire CEO hits revenue milestones

SAN FRANCISCO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk is coming close to earning the first $346 million tranche of options in a record-breaking pay package, after the electric vehicle maker’s stock more than doubled in the last three months.

Shares of Tesla surged 9 percent to a record high on Monday. They need to rise another 6 percent to put Tesla’s stock market value at $100 billion and then be sustained at that level for both a one-month and six-month average in order to trigger the vesting of the first of 12 tranches of options granted to Musk to buy Tesla stock.

Musk has already hit an operational target that is also necessary for the options to vest.

For Musk’s subsequent tranches to vest under the terms of the 2018 package, the company’s market cap would have to continue to sustainably rise by $50 billion increments over the agreement’s 10-year period, with the billionaire earning the full package if Tesla’s market capitalization reaches $650 billion and the electric car maker achieves several revenue and profit targets.

A full payoff for Musk, who is also the majority owner and CEO of the SpaceX rocket maker, would surpass anything previously granted to US executives, according Institutional Shareholder Services, a proxy adviser that recommended investors reject the pay package deal at the time.

Musk receives no salary or cash bonus, only options that vest based on Tesla’s market cap and milestones for growth.

“This is the very definition of pay for performance,” said Ian Keas, senior director at Longnecker & Associates, an executive compensation consulting firm. “But is he the only individual that could serve in that seat as CEO and deliver that value to shareholders? That’s the billion dollar question.”

Musk’s potential payout compares to the $638 million received by Snap Inc. founder Evan Spiegel in 2017 after the social network company’s initial public offering. In 2018, Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger earned stock grants worth as much as $149.6 million, including awards related to Disney’s purchase of film and television assets from Twenty-First Century Fox.

Musk has transformed Tesla from a niche car maker with production problems into the global leader in electric vehicles, with US and Chinese factories. So far it has stayed ahead of more established rivals, including BMW and Volkswagen .

Last week, Tesla’s stock market value hit nearly $89 billion, eclipsing the sum of General Motors’ and Ford’s for the first time, fueled by a surprise third-quarter profit, progress at a new factory in China and better-than-expected car deliveries in the fourth quarter.

Many investors remain skeptical that Tesla can consistently deliver profit, cash flow and growth, however. More Wall Street analysts rate Tesla “sell” than “buy,” and the company’s stock has been one of the most shorted on Wall Street.

Tesla was valued at about $53 billion when shareholders approved the pay package in January 2018 and faced a cash crunch, production delays and increasing competition from rivals. It was viewed as massively ambitious because it implied the company’s value could grow as much as ten-fold in 10 years.

Last year, Musk hit two operational milestones, pulling in revenue above $20 billion and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of $1.5 billion over four straight quarters. Musk owns about 34 million Tesla shares, equivalent to 19 percent of the company. 


Greek town bets on slow tourism to overcome virus

Updated 54 min 13 sec ago

Greek town bets on slow tourism to overcome virus

  • The pandemic is an opportunity to promote alternative tourism, fishing tourism

PREVEZA, Greece: Yannis Yovanos scans the waters of the Ambracian Gulf with his binoculars for dolphins shooting into the air before curving back down into the sea.

His early warnings prompt just a dozen tourists on the deck of Yovanos’ small boat to scramble for their smartphones, hoping to secure a snap of the aquatic mammals’ aerial acrobatics.

Officials in his home town of Preveza hope that it’s just this kind of small, family-run business that will help them overcome the coronavirus’ impact on travel — while sparing the region the environmental impact and economic distortions of the mass tourism more common on Crete or the Ionian islands.

“We don’t want to stay all day on a beach, we’re looking for a different experience,” said Dutch tourist Frederika Janssen.

“The pandemic is an opportunity to promote alternative tourism, fishing tourism,” as well as local life and culture “directly related to the natural resources that date from Antiquity,” said Constantin Koutsikopoulos, who heads the agency charged with managing the Ambracian Gulf.

Inside the gulf is a protected wetlands park, some 400 sq. km that is one of Europe’s Natura 2000 wildlife diversity regions.

One hundred and fifty dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles and 300 species of aquatic birds including the rare Dalmatian pelican live in the lagoons and reed beds of the gulf.

Nestled between green hills, the Ambracian Gulf is fed by rivers descending from the mountains of the Epirus region of northwestern Greece.

Yovanos’ hometown guards the little strait that connects the gulf with the Ionian Sea.

Dolphin watching trips like these mean “I am realizing my dream of living the life of a fisherman among our natural riches,” said the 49-year-old from behind a greying beard.

For Greece as a whole, a gamble on reopening its borders to tourists as early as June appears to have paid off for now.

New coronavirus cases have appeared only slowly since then, with fewer than 6,000 cases and just over 200 deaths nationwide from the pandemic.

Although Preveza has opted for a slower, more family-oriented approach to travel compared to better-known Greek destinations, it hasn’t renounced Mediterranean holiday clichés altogether.

With the sector suffering a big hit from the coronavirus epidemic, Preveza city officials launched a promotional campaign, securing the title of safest place for a European beach holiday from website European Best Destinations.

“Monolithi beach, the main beach of Preveza, is ... the longest one in Europe... you won’t have to struggle to get a nice spot, fix your beach umbrella and spend relaxing days in the sun,” it wrote.

And new infrastructure in the shape of a marina has helped draw sailors away from packed ports on the islands.

“Preveza is the right place compared to Corfu which is a very nice island but very crowded,” said Nick Ray, a British businessman, from the deck of his yacht that had put into the town’s port.

With its fishing and fish farming, the Ambracian Gulf is already the region’s economic motor.

Sustainable, environment-focused tourism should give the authorities even more reason to deal with the threats to the gulf such as pollution, poaching and illegal fishing.

There’s even something for ancient history buffs in the ruins of Nicopolis, founded by Caesar Augustus in honor of his naval victory nearby in 31 BC, where some Roman mosaics are still preserved.