As the Tesla go-private saga enters its ninth day, many are wondering when regulators will decide whether Elon Musk broke the rules by dripping out details so haphazardly.
History suggests it might take a while.
At the center of the Tesla controversy is what Musk meant when he tweeted Aug. 7 that he had secured funding for a buyout without providing any specifics to back up the claim. Almost a week later he said his confidence was based on conversations with a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, which had long expressed interest in taking the company private.
Securities lawyers have said Musk's subsequent statement showed funding was anything but secure. So it's an open-and-shut case of misleading investors that the SEC should be able to bring pretty quickly, right?
The SEC's average inquiry takes about two years. That kind of time frame would understandably frustrate traders who are reading Musk's tweets and trying to assess in real-time whether he's actually lined up bankers and lawyers to advise on a deal. But even though Wall Street might want a quick ruling on whether he's violated securities laws, Washington regulators may disappoint.