Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, who has sold more than $15bn worth of shares in the company since early November, said on Wednesday that he was “almost done” with his stock sales.
The billionaire had made confusing statements as to whether he might or might not be done with his stated goal of selling 10 percent of his Tesla shares.
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“I sold enough stock to get to around 10 percent plus the option exercise stuff and I tried to be extremely literal here,” he said in an interview on Tuesday with conservative satirical website Babylon Bee.
But on Wednesday he suggested he might not be done. “This assumes completion of the 10b sale,” he tweeted, referring to his prearranged sales plan related to his options.
“There are still a few tranches left, but almost done,” he tweeted later.
Under the Rule 10b5-1 trading plan set up in September, he has exercised stock options that expire next year and sold a portion of the stocks to pay taxes, according to Tesla filings.
Following a flurry of sales, Musk still has about 1.5 million stock options that expire in August next year.
Tesla shares extended gains, rising more than 5 percent on Thursday after ending 7.5 percent higher than the previous session.
‘Land of overtaxation’
Musk said on November 6 that he would sell 10 percent of his stake if Twitter users agreed. Tesla shares, which were hovering near record highs, lost about a quarter of their value soon after.
On Wednesday, Musk sold another 934,091 shares, bringing the total he has offloaded to 14.77 million — nearly 90 percent of the 17 million or so shares he has been expected to sell.
When the 10b preprogrammed sales complete. There are still a few tranches left, but almost done.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2021
Asked whether he sold because of the Twitter poll, he said on Tuesday he needed to exercise stock options that expire next year “no matter what”. He added that he sold additional “incremental stock” to get near 10 percent.
Of the 14.77 million shares sold, 9.34 million were sold to pay taxes related to the exercise of his option, according to Tesla’s securities filings.
Musk, who moved the company’s headquarters from California to Texas earlier this month, also criticized California for “overtaxation” and “overregulation” in Tuesday’s interview.
“California used to be the land of opportunity and now it is…becoming more so the land of sort of overregulation, overlitigation, overtaxation,” he said, adding it was “increasingly difficult to get things done” in California.
On Sunday, he said he would pay more than $11bn in taxes this year. He has said his personal tax rate tops 50 percent, which would include federal and state income taxes. Musk said last year that he relocated from California to Texas, where he faces no state income tax.
Musk also said the “metaverse”, which describes shared virtual environments, is not compelling, adding that playing video games with goggles can cause motion sickness. “Sure, you can put a TV on your nose.”
“I think we’re far from disappearing into the metaverse. This sounds just kind of buzzword-y.”