- Elon Musk sold $US5 ($AU7) billion in Tesla shares after exercising 2.15 million in stock options priced at $US6.24 ($AU8) each on Monday.
- Musk recently asked Twitter whether he should sell 10% of his shares, and his followers said yes.
- But Musk’s plan to sell his own shares was in place weeks earlier, and he offloaded only about 3% of his Tesla holdings.
On Monday, Musk exercised 2.15 million stock options at a price of $US6.24 ($AU8) each, for a total cost of $US13.4 ($AU18) billion. He then sold 934,000 shares at varying prices, ultimately collecting more than $US1.1 ($AU1) billion from the sales.
Over the next two days, his trust dumped almost 3.6 million shares, totaling about $US4 ($AU5) billion.
Musk’s moves come just days after he asked his Twitter followers in a poll whether he should sell 10% of his shares in Tesla amid a swirling debate among policymakers about whether to increase taxes on the ultra-wealthy.
Of the 3.5 million Twitter users who participated in the poll, nearly 60% voted in favor of Musk’s proposed sale.
However, Musk’s own actual stock sales this week were part of a pre-scheduled plan that had been put in place on September 14, – weeks before he posted the Twitter poll – according to the regulatory filings.
Insider’s Tim Levin also reported this week that Musk was likely planning to exercise the options, issued in 2012, because they were set to expire next year – and that he faces a tax bill at least $US10 ($AU14) billion, according to Wedbush Securities, which may explain why he wanted to liquidate some shares.
But Musk offloaded far less than his Twitter poll suggested he might. According to the filings, Musk owns 170.5 million shares in addition to the 2.15 million he exercised on Monday, meaning his sale of 4.5 million amounts to less than 3% of his total Tesla holdings.
Following the poll, Tesla’s share price plunged, with analysts saying the stock could remain volatile until Musk followed through on his promise to abide by the poll results “whichever way it goes.”
In the past two days, Musk’s net worth has fallen around $US50 ($AU68) billion, but he’s still the world’s richest individual.
Tesla’s shares were up nearly 3% in after-hours trading following reports of the filings.
This story was updated with information on the trust share sale.