Elon Musk has made about $60bn (£46bn) as shares in Tesla have rocketed. However, the second-biggest winner is a relatively obscure Edinburgh firm that began snapping up shares in the electric car company in 2012. It has made an extraordinary $17bn from the stock.
Despite a major setback in Tesla’s share price this week, Baillie Gifford, the firm behind the purchases, says it remains a “strong supporter” of the car company.
It runs a century-old investment trust, Scottish Mortgage, plus some other investment funds. Investment trusts are often regarded as slightly old-fashioned, conventional vehicles for cautious investors.
However, eight years ago the fund managers James Anderson and Tom Slater began investing heavily in Tesla, when the shares were changing hands at about $6 each. This week they were trading at about $350, although significantly down from their peak of $498 in late August.
As it built up its investment, Baillie Gifford became the largest external shareholder in Tesla, owning about 5% of the company.
More recently, it has had to sell some of its holdings – like other investment funds it has concentration limits, to make sure that no one company becomes too large within the portfolio.
By 2 September this year, Baillie Gifford held 4.25% of the company, worth $19.7bn.
Speaking then, Anderson said: “We are immensely grateful for the extraordinary efforts and achievements of Tesla in driving forward a transportation and energy revolution in the face of persistent scepticism and often downright hostility.”
Baillie Gifford’s small investors are probably also immensely grateful. The share price of the Scottish Mortgage investment trust, where Tesla shares form 13% of the fund, is up by 270% over the past five years.
Other Baillie Gifford funds that hold Tesla shares have also soared. BG American, which has 8.5% of its money in Tesla, has given its investors a return of 332% in the last five years.