Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has confirmed selling $6.9 billion worth of shares in his electric vehicle company, saying it was done to cover the risk that he loses his legal battle with Twitter and is forced to takeover the social media platform.
“In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close *and* some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock,” he said in a tweet late on Tuesday.
In early July Musk tore up his April 25 agreement to buy Twitter for $44 billion. That led to Twitter suing Musk to force him to complete the transaction, with the group saying he had “buyer’s remorse” in the wake of a plunge in technology stocks and dismissing his claim he was misled about the number of spam accounts on the social media platform.
The two sides will outline their positions when the matter goes to court on October 17.
BREAKING: Elon Musk has filed a total of six Form 4s with the SEC tonight showing that he sold 7,924,107 $TSLA shares worth about $6.9 Billion.
Weighted average price was $869.09.
The sales took place on August 5th, 8th and 9th. pic.twitter.com/SueP2AYGNR
— Sawyer Merritt 📈🚀 (@SawyerMerritt) August 10, 2022
“Street will read through this poker move that chances of Twitter deal more likely now,” Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, tweeted.
In other comments on Twitter on Tuesday, Musk said “yes” when asked if he was done selling Tesla stock, but also said he would buy Tesla stock again if the Twitter deal does not close.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Musk, the world’s richest person, sold $8.5 billion worth of Tesla shares in April and said at the time no further sales were planned.
But legal experts have suggested since then that if Musk is forced to complete the acquisition or settle the dispute with a stiff penalty, he was likely to sell more Tesla shares.
Musk sold about 7.92 million shares between August 5 and 9, according to multiple filings. He now owns just over 155 million Tesla shares or just under 15% of the automaker, according to Reuters’ calculations.
The latest sales bring total Tesla stock sales by Musk to about $32 billion in less than one year.
Tesla shares have risen nearly 15% since the automaker reported better-than-expected earnings on July 20, also helped by the Biden administration’s climate bill that, if passed, would lift the cap on tax credits for electric vehicles.
Musk also teased on Tuesday that he could start his own social media platform. When asked by a Twitter user if he had thought about creating his own platform if the deal didn’t close, he replied: “X.com”
X.com was an online bank founded by Musk and several others in 1999 in California. It merged with Confinity Inc and changed its name to PayPal, which was bought by eBay for $1.5bn in 2002.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard