“Around 2013, there was a serious bid from Apple at around $240 a share,” Craig Irwin, an analyst at Roth Capital Partners, told CNBC. “This is something we did multiple checks on. I have complete confidence that this is accurate. Apple bid for Tesla. I don’t know if it got to a formal paperwork stage, but I know from multiple different sources that this was very credible.”
While Tesla is down more than 38 percent this year so far, the fact that there was once a “very credible” offer on the table keeps Irwin from being more bearish on the stock today.
“If Apple had interest then, they would probably have interest now at the right price,” he said.
Irwin added that Apple’s car project is still in development, and the company is reportedly building large “dry rooms” in California, designed to handle the production of lithium-ion batteries.
“My checks are Apple is building several dry rooms, including a couple that are much larger than what you would need for watch or consumer product battery development,” wrote Irwin in a follow-up email.
In 2014, the San Francisco Chronicle even reported that Tesla’s Elon Musk met with Apple’s head of mergers and acquisitions, and might have even discussed a possible deal with Apple CEO Tim Cook. If an acquisition were to take place, it would be the tech giant’s biggest buy ever. Tesla’s current market cap is at about $36 billion, while the most Apple has paid is $3 billion for Beats Electronics in 2014.
One issue Apple might have with a deal: getting Musk to step down.
“Regarding the acquisition: my understanding is Apple wanted Elon Musk to step away, and that was a deal killer,” Irwin said.