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EV maker Lucid surges on report Saudi PIF to buy remaining stake

(Reuters) -Lucid Group's shares surged 43% on Friday, paring gains after doubling on market speculation that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) wanted to buy out the electric vehicle maker.

The speculation originated from an "uncooked" alert attributed to deals website Betaville, using its term for market gossip. Lucid was the sixth-most traded stock on U.S. exchanges and third top mover on the Nasdaq mid-afternoon.

The PIF, the sovereign wealth fund that owns more than 65% of Newark, California-based Lucid, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lucid declined to comment.

In 2018, PIF was interested in taking Tesla private, but the deal did not materialize. Tesla chief Elon Musk is under trial for allegedly misleading investors with his tweet "funding secured" for taking the company private.

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Lucid has been struggling to deliver its sleek Air luxury EVs after delivering 4,369 vehicles last year.

With Tesla's price cuts, money-losing U.S. startups like Rivian Automotive Inc and Lucid will find it difficult to grab share in an industry competing for shrinking consumer wallets.

Lucid's short interest as a percentage of its total float is around 37% versus only 3.5% for Tesla. Still, in dollar amounts, Lucid's short interest totals $1.6 billion, versus $15.01 billion of Musk's car maker.

Short sellers dealt a mark-to-market loss of $685 million with Lucid's shares spike on Friday, analytics firm S3 Partners added. Losses, however, only materialize if short sellers close out their positions.

"With Lucid short sellers' mark-to-market losses climbing, we should expect short covering to begin in earnest after today's short-side blood bath," said Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of S3, adding it has become a popular trading position.

One long-short fund manager who had no previous exposure to Lucid said it decided to short it as this person believes the spike was solely based on rumors.

(Reporting by Carolina Mandl, in New York, Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru and Hyun Joo Jin; Editing by Maju Samuel and Josie Kao)