Tesla chief executive Elon Musk revealed on Wednesday that he had sold around $ 5 billion of Tesla shares, in part to cover his tax obligations after exercising options on a large slice of shares.
Mr. Musk sold about 4.5 million shares between Monday and Wednesday, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tesla’s stock closed at $ 1,067.95 on Wednesday, which would value the shares at around $ 4.8 billion, but some were sold at slightly higher prices.
In filings, Mr. Musk said he sold about a million shares “only” to cover taxes on 2,154,572 shares he bought at $ 6.24 each. The shares he acquired, totaling $ 13.4 million, were instantly worth around $ 2.3 billion. Later Wednesday, he announced the sale of an additional 3.6 million shares.
Mr. Musk still owns nearly 17% of Tesla’s shares, shares worth around $ 180 billion. Tesla recently exceeded $ 1 trillion in market valuation.
Over the weekend, Mr Musk posted a Twitter poll asking his followers if he should sell 10% of his shares, referring to a political debate over whether the richest Americans should be taxed on the basis of their wealth rather than their income. He said he would comply with whatever respondents chose, and about 58 percent said to sell.
Regardless of the poll, the disclosures indicated that Mr. Musk had a plan in place in September to sell shares when buying options. Mr. Musk holds more than 20 million stock options, worth nearly $ 30 billion, which expire in August. Many of these options are unlikely to qualify for preferential tax treatment, which means he could owe billions of dollars in taxes if he exercises them all.
Tesla’s stock fell 16% in the two trading days after it was posted on Twitter, although it gained 4.3% on Wednesday before Mr Musk disclosed his trades. Tesla shares were higher in the aftermarket following its revelations.
Stephen gandel contributed reports.