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Elon Musk Sells More Tesla Stock As Value Slides

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk sells another block of shares bring total to $5.8bn in matter of days, amidst looming $11bn tax bill.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has sold another block of shares worth $687.3 million (£512m), adding to a previous block worth more than $5bn that he sold last week. He disclosed the latest sales in a regulatory filing late on Friday.

In total Musk, by some estimates the richest man in the world, sold 5.2 million shares for a total of $5.8bn last week. Earlier this month Musk held a poll on Twitter asking if he should sell 10 percent of his stock in order to pay taxes. Some 58 percent agreed he should sell.

Tax bill

Musk holds 22.9 million stock options that are due to expire by August of 2022, and if exercised he would owe tax on the value of those shares as if they were regular income, leaving him with an estimated tax bill of at least $11bn. Musk receives no cash salary or bonuses except for stock options, and selling the shares would give him the cash needed to pay the tax bill.

Tesla shares have lost 13 percent of their value since Musk posted the Twitter poll. Musk has at times said publicly he thinks Tesla shares are overvalued. Last week the company lost $180bn in market value, more than the combined market capitalisations of Ford and GM. However, the company remains the most valuable US automaker.

Rivian IPO

Last month Tesla became only the sixth in history to reach a market value of $1tn. It is worth more than the combined value of the world’s 12 largest automakers. After a successful IPO by electric truck maker Rivian last week, the two most valuable US car makers are electric vehicle producers.

In a tweet following the IPO last week Musk did not name Rivian directly, but said while there have been “hundreds of automotive startups” Tesla is “only American carmaker to reach high volume production & positive cash flow in past 100 years”.

Musk has now sold about 3 percent of his Tesla holdings, according to industry watchers. It is the first time he has sold a stake of that size since the company was founded in 2003.

Prior to the sale Musk owned about 23 percent of Tesla, including stock options.

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