Elon Musk sells 4.5M Tesla shares worth $5 billion



Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla Inc., has sold about $5 billion worth of Tesla’s shares — just days after he polled Twitter users about selling 10 percent of his stake.


The sales amounted to about 3 percent of Musk’s stake in the company.


In regulatory filings released on Wednesday, the world’s richest person so far has disposed of more than 4.5 million shares this week – – his first share sale since 2016.


On Monday, he offloaded about $1.1 billion worth of stock to pay income taxes on equity options that he also exercised that day, two of the filings showed.


Those transactions were made based on a pre-arranged trading plan adopted in mid-September.


On Tuesday and Wednesday, Musk carried out the remaining sales — around 3.6 million shares worth around $4 billion. The filings detailing those disposals didn’t indicate that they were pre-planned.


Musk, on Saturday, had asked Twitter users in a poll if he should sell 10 percent of his shares in the electric vehicle company.


The poll garnered more than 3.5 million votes, and 58 percent supported a sale.


The billionaire had phrased his Twitter poll as a tax question, telling followers that “much is made lately of unrealised gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock.”


His tweet on Saturday followed a proposal about a billionaire tax in the U.S. Senate, which would tax unrealised gains of a handful of the richest Americans before such assets are sold.


Musk said he does not take a cash salary or bonus, so “the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock.”


Before now, Musk and other billionaires had been accused of paying little or no federal income taxes.


The filings on Wednesday shed no light on whether Musk’s weekend Twitter poll had any bearing on his decision to carry out some or all of the transactions — or whether he’ll continue selling until he’s met the 10 percent threshold.


To hit a 10 percent sale of his total stake in Tesla, the billionaire would have to sell millions of more shares than he has done this week.

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