Elon Musk sells massive $6.9 billion chunk of Tesla (TSLA) stake

Tesla has disclosed that CEO Elon Musk sold around $6.9 billion worth of Tesla (TSLA) shares last week.

It’s a significant chunk of his Tesla stake, but the reason behind the sale is unknown as of now. A Twitter settlement maybe?

Update: Musk has commented on the sale, and we have added those comments to the end of this article.

Today, Tesla released a series of SEC filings on Tuesday evening revealing that Elon Musk has sold significant numbers of Tesla stocks starting last Friday and up to today:

  • 3,273,270 TSLA shares on August 5
  • 1,470,481 TSLA shares on August 8
  • 3,021,586 TSLA shares on August 9

It adds up to around $6.9 billion worth of Tesla shares over the last week.

Tesla nor Musk have revealed the reason for the sale at this point.

As of the last filing and sale of shares today, Musk still holds 155,039,144 Tesla shares, which is worth $131.7 billion at today’s closing price of $850 per share.

Elon Musk selling Tesla (TSLA) stocks

After Tesla went public in 2010, Elon Musk often said that he would be the “last one to sell Tesla stocks.”

The CEO periodically had to do it to cover his taxes after receiving large stock compensations, which is something he did warn would happen amid his promise not to sell Tesla.

However, paying taxes turned out not to be the only reason he would sell Tesla stocks.

In late 2021, Musk said he would sell 10% of his stake in Tesla if a Twitter poll agreed, which it unsurprisingly did.

The CEO framed the idea as pressure from the media and politicians about the rich not paying taxes on unrealized gains.

However, Musk wasn’t as vocal about the fact that he was facing a giant tax bill regardless of his sale of shares, due to a large number of stock options he needs to exercise over the next year. More importantly, the CEO did end up selling more Tesla shares than he needed to cover his tax burden from the stock options being exercised.

In December 2021, Musk announced that he was done selling Tesla.

A few months later, we learned that he used some of that extra money from selling those shares to invest roughly $3 billion in Twitter.

Soon after, Musk announced a deal to buy Twitter and take it private. The CEO again broke his promise to be the last one to sell Tesla shares and sold about $8 billion worth to cover some of the equity needed in the deal.

Now a judge will be the one to decide whether or not Musk is going to buy Twitter since the CEO has backed out of the deal claiming that Twitter is lying about the percentage of daily users who are bots and the company is suing him to complete the deal.

Update: Musk claimed on Twitter that he is “done selling” and suggested that the purpose of this sale was to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock in the event that the Twitter deal closes. He also stated that he would “buy Tesla stock again” if the Twitter deal doesn’t close. But he claimed the same thing in April (and, as mentioned above, December), then went on to sell $6.5 billion in stock last week as reported in this article.

Electrek’s Take

The reason behind the sale is not clear, but at this point, Musk has made it clear that his “last one to sell Tesla” promise comes with several exceptions.

It’s not impossible that Musk has come to a settlement with Twitter, and he is selling to cover more of the equity portion of the deal, but that’s pure speculation at this point.

Why do you think Musk sold $6.5 billion worth of Tesla shares? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Fred Lambert

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