Mexico, Tesla near deal on investment after president’s phone call -sources

Musk at ONS 2022 oil and gas conferenceTesla founder Elon Musk attends Offshore Northern Seas 2022 in Stavanger, Norway August 29, 2022. NTB/Carina Johansen via REUTERS

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MEXICO CITY, Feb 27 (Reuters) – Mexico and Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) are close to announcing a deal on the electric vehicle maker's plans to invest in Mexico after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk spoke on Monday, Mexican officials said.

Lopez Obrador earlier revealed he would be talking to the "owner" of Tesla, which officials confirmed meant Musk.

One of the officials said following Monday's call that Tesla would be coming to Mexico. A second official said the two sides were "90 percent" of the way toward an agreement.

"The call went really well," a third Mexican official said.

A fourth Mexican official said details of an agreement between Mexico and Tesla would be revealed on Tuesday.

Tesla did not reply to a request for comment.

The call was announced after Lopez Obrador said on Friday Tesla would be denied permits to build a plant in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, where the company has been considering investing, if water is scarce in the arid region.

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Two of the officials said Musk and Lopez Obrador had already spoken on Saturday. Monday's call lasted about 40 minutes and Saturday's around 35 minutes, one of the officials said.

Lopez Obrador's office did not reply to a request for comment.

The discussions around Tesla have become a major test of whether Lopez Obrador can set the terms for major investments in Mexico in pursuit of a policy of resource nationalism which has persistently stirred misgivings among business groups.

The comments last week by the leftist Lopez Obrador were the strongest sign yet that his concerns over water supply could become a deal-breaker for Tesla's plans in Nuevo Leon, an opposition-run state on the U.S.-Mexico border.

After Monday's call, one of the officials said Nuevo Leon was still in the running. Mexico's government has also said the firm is considering investing near a new Mexico City airport.

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