Elon Musk: Tesla boss sells $5bn of shares after Twitter poll

Elon Musk: Tesla boss sells $5bn of shares after Twitter poll

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sold approximately $1.1 billion in shares of his electric car company, after indicating over the weekend he would sell 10 percent of his stock based on the results of a Twitter poll.

However, the sale was put in motion on September 14, according to documents filed Wednesday, meaning it was not spurred by the survey’s outcome.

Musk, the world’s richest man, sold about 930,000 shares on Monday, a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission financial regulator showed.

A batch of shares worth $1.1 billion was sold on Monday in a bid to settle tax obligations after Musk exercised stock options, but the sale was initiated under a pre-arranged trading plan set up in September, according to the filings.

It was not clear if the remaining share sales notified on Tuesday and Wednesday — around 3.6 million shares worth around $4 billion — were also planned ahead of the Twitter poll.

On Saturday Musk tweeted: “Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock. Do you support this?”

Elon Musk: Tesla boss sells $5bn of shares after Twitter poll

If Musk carried out the 10% stock sale plan, it would be a slight negative near term, said Mark Arnold, chief investment officer at Hyperion Asset Management in Brisbane where Tesla is the top holding in its global fund.

“But the stock is pretty liquid and it’s not a huge percentage of total issued shares, so it shouldn’t have that much of an impact … we’re quite comfortable with the outlook for the business,” he said.

While Tesla has lost close to $150 billion in market value this week, retail investors have been net buyers of the stock. Some 58% of Tesla trade orders on Fidelity’s brokerage website on Wednesday were for purchases, rather than sales.

Retail investors made net purchases of $157 million on Monday and Tuesday, according to Vanda Research.

Tesla is now up more than 51% in 2021, thanks largely to an October rally that was fueled by an agreement to sell 100,000 vehicles to rental car company Hertz. 

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