Elon Musk's SpaceX is now worth more than Tesla

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Elon Musk speaks near a Falcon 9 rocket during his announcement that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will be the first private passenger who will fly around the Moon aboard the SpaceX BFR launch vehicle.

DAVID MCNEW | AFP | Getty Images

Elon Musk’s space company, SpaceX, is now worth more than his electric car company, Tesla — at least on paper.

SpaceX is valued at $33.3 billion, investors familiar with the company’s latest round told CNBC on Friday. Tesla’s market cap was $32.8 billion at the end of trading Friday.

Musk is the largest shareholder and CEO of both companies, with a 54% stake in SpaceX and more than 20% ownership of Tesla.

SpaceX successfully launched 60 Starlink satellites into orbit recently, and has raised more than $1.02 billion since the beginning of 2019. Tesla shares have declined by more than 44% during the same period.

The electric vehicle maker has struggled to rein in its spending, while staking its future on success in China. Its effort to set up a factory in Shanghai began this year as trade relations between the US and China rapidly deteriorated.

Until Tesla can manufacture its Model 3 electric sedans there, it faces steep import taxes in China. It also faces higher tariffs on parts and raw materials it buys from Chinese suppliers to make its batteries and cars in the United States.

Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc.

Yuriko Nakao | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said (on a May 22 call) that investors shouldn’t rule out the possibility that Musk could use his SpaceX stake to “collateralize” Tesla. “There’s a precedent for Elon Musk to think across his portfolio of companies,” he said, referencing the 2016 acquisition of SolarCity by Tesla.

The deal cost Tesla around $5 billion — it issued $2 billion in stock, and took on about $3 billion in SolarCity debt. It was also seen as a bailout for Musk, and his family — his cousin Lyndon Rive was the CEO of the residential solar installer, while Elon Musk and other friends and family members had personally invested in SolarCity as well.

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