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Elon Musk sells $5 billion of Tesla shares mostly to cover taxes, shortly after Twitter poll

Close to 58% of the 3.5 million votes were cast supporting a sale in the poll over the weekend.

Image: PA Images

TESLA CHIEF EXECUTIVE Elon Musk has sold around 900,000 shares in his company for $1.1 billion (€958 million) yesterday shortly after holding a Twitter poll, asking whether he should sell 10% of his stake in the company.

Overall— through sales on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday — Musk has sold about $5 billion (€4.7 billion) worth of stock this week or 4.5 million shares in total.

Close to 58% of the 3.5 million votes were cast supporting a sale in the poll over the weekend. Musk said at that time that he would abide by the poll.

It’s not clear, however, if the poll had any influence on Musk’s decision.

The billionaire has used the proceeds of Monday’s sale partly to pay off tax obligations due on stock options that he exercised that day.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s sales were signalled to the market in two regulatory filings.

In the filings, Musk said he had sold about a million of the shares “solely” to cover taxes on 2.1 million shares he picked up at $6.24 in 2012.

Later on Wednesday, he disclosed the sale of an additional 3.6 million shares. 

However, the documents do not detail whether Musk will continue selling until the 10% target, a stake in the company valued at $20 billion (€17.4 billion).

After the transactions, Musk still owns about 170 million Tesla shares.

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Last weekend’s poll caused a sell-off of the stock on Monday and Tuesday, but it recovered somewhat on Wednesday.

The company has recently been valued at one trillion dollars, a valuation that has been questioned by many market analysts.

Federal authorities in the United States are currently investigating 12 serious incidents involving Tesla’s self-driving ‘Autopilot’ software in which at least 17 people were hurt and one was killed.

 

— Additional reporting by PA 

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