Elon Musk Sells Total $6.9 Billion Worth of Tesla Shares

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, sold a total of $6.9 billion worth of shares in the electric car company this week, taking advantage of the company’s stratospheric rise to over $1 trillion in value.

According to a U.S. security filing released later in the day, the billionaire sold 1.2 million shares held by his trust for more than $1.2 billion (approximately Rs. 8,922 crores) on Friday, the latest in a flurry of his stock transactions.

Last Saturday, Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and Tesla’s largest shareholder tweeted that he would sell 10% of his stock if followers of the social media site approved the move. At the time of his tweet, 10% equated to around 17 million shares.

This week, he sold 6.36 million shares, or almost 37% of the total of 17 million. To meet his vow to sell 10% of his holdings, he now needs to sell around 10 million additional shares, Reuters reports.

Tesla’s stock fell 2.8 percent to $1,033.42 (approximately Rs.76,800) on Friday, ending an 11-week winning streak. Following a strong run in October, the stock has gained more than 46% this year.

The stock sales were large by capital market standards, topping most firms’ initial public offerings. It was the first time Musk paid out on a stake of that scale since the company was created in 2003.

He has mitigated any criticism of cashing out at a time when Tesla’s valuation has become inflated and shares are at record highs by getting Twitter users to approve the move.

The most valuable automaker in the United States

Tesla shares plunged 15.4% this week, losing $187 billion in market value (approximately Rs. 13,90,492 crore), more than the combined market capitalizations of Ford Motor and General Motors.

Despite its losses this week, Tesla remains the world’s most valuable automaker. The stock’s recent robust increases have highlighted the desire for shares of electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers.

Following Rivian Automotive’s market launch on Wednesday, the two most valuable US automakers are both electric vehicle startups.

Musk tweeted on Thursday, “There have been hundreds of automobile startups, both electric & combustion, but Tesla is (the) only American carmaker to attain high volume production & positive cash flow in the past 100 years,” a veiled dig at the Irvine, California-based competition.

More sales?

Musk previously stated that he will be required to exercise a large number of stock options this year, resulting in significant tax payments. Selling some of his shares may be able to help him pay his taxes.

Musk had a 23 percent ownership in Tesla prior to the transaction, including stock options.
He has options for 20 million more shares that he must execute by August after exercising 2.15 million shares on Monday.

“We expect the share sales to continue,” said Jason Benowitz, senior portfolio manager at Roosevelt Investment Group LLC in New York. “Musk retains millions of options worth billions of dollars that would otherwise expire worthlessly, and he has also prepared share sales under 10b5-1 procedures.”

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