Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, offloaded $1.05 billion worth of Tesla stock, according to new regulatory filings Tuesday, passing the halfway point to meet his Twitter poll-backed promise to sell 10% of his stake in the electric vehicle company. Musk sold around 934,000 shares for just over $1.05 billion, according to the regulatory filings.
The sale will cover taxes after Musk exercised options to buy 2.15 million shares, the filings show.
The billionaire has sold nearly $10 billion worth of Tesla stock—some 9.2 million shares—this month since asking Twitter users to vote on whether he should sell 10% of his stake in the electric car maker.
To reach the 10% threshold, Forbes estimated Musk will need to sell a total of around 17 million shares, with his recent sale pushing him past the halfway point. While Musk’s tweets have been known to move markets—something he has faced regulatory scrutiny for—he vowed to let Twitter dictate the future of some of his Tesla stake. Overwhelmingly, users of the social media platform voted for the billionaire to sell 10% of his stake and Musk has been regularly offloading chunks of stock since. Prior to the selling spree, Musk had only offloaded Tesla shares on two occasions, selling around $24 million worth in 2010 and around $593 million worth in 2016. In October, Musk became the first person to ever be worth more than $300 billion, though his worth has settled just below this milestone. $1.1 trillion. That’s Tesla’s market value Wednesday morning.
The documents showed that the sale of about a fifth of the shares was made based on a pre-arranged trading plan set up in September, long before Mr Musk’s social media posts at the weekend about selling some of his shares.
However, the regulatory filings also showed that the sale of the remainder of the shares had not been scheduled.
Mr Musk has highlighted that he is not paid in cash by Tesla and only has stock.
Part of the latest transaction saw him exercising stock options that he was awarded as part of his pay package in 2012, which is due to expire in August next year.
Mr Musk has one option to buy 22.86 million Tesla shares at $6.24 each, but if he doesn’t exercise the stock option then the shares would become worthless after the expiry date.
Such transactions trigger income taxes, which are typically settled using money raised from immediately selling some of the newly acquired shares.
His move also comes as US Democrats have proposed a so-called “billionaires tax”, which could the richest taxed on “unrealised gains” even if they do not sell any of their stock.
“Elon Musk doesn’t take a salary, he’s paid in big chunks of stock. At some point in time you have to take some of that concentration down,” Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York, told Reuters.
“This is not novel. It just gets more attention because it’s such a high market-cap type, attention grabbing kind of company.”
Before selling some of his shares, Mr Musk owned a 23% stake in Tesla.
The shares he sold equate to about 3% of Musk’s total holdings in the carmaker, though it has not been confirmed if the sale was related to his weekend Twitter poll, or if he intends to stagger further sales.
On Saturday, Mr Musk posted a poll asking his followers to vote on whether he should sell part of his stake in Tesla to meet his tax obligations.
“Much is made lately of unrealised gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock,” he tweeted.