According to regulatory filings cited by Automotive News, the world’s richest man has sold more than 4.5 million shares this week, his first sales in more than five years.
While the headline-grabbing Twitter survey made it look like he wanted to stop the conversation about him avoiding taxes, the filings released Wednesday reveal that some of the transactions were pre-arranged in mid-September, almost two months before the poll.
Additionally, Musk did not say in the tweets that he has millions of stock options that must be exercised before they expire in August 2022. More specifically, he has one option to buy 22.86 million Tesla shares at $6.24 each.
Two of the filings showed that the executive sold about $1.1 billion worth of stock on November 8 to pay income taxes on equity options he also exercised that day to acquire nearly 2.2 million shares. The remaining sales worth around $4 billion were made on Nov. 9 and 10, and the corresponding filings didn't indicate that they were pre-planned.
In total, the executive sold the 4.5 million shares for around $5 billion but is far from selling 10 percent of its shares as he said in the Twitter poll. To get there, he’d have to offload at least 17 million shares, worth an estimated $20 billion. There’s no indication in the SEC filings that Musk will continue selling his Tesla shares and the poll had anything to do with his decision to sell stock.
The Twitter survey reached almost 3.5 million votes, almost 58 percent of which were cast in favour of a sale. The poll also sent Tesla shares down 16 percent on Nov. 8 and 9, slashing $50 billion from Musk’s net worth. TSLA offset a part of those declines on Nov. 10, closing up 4.3%, but stagnated at minus 0.42% on Nov. 11 at the end of the trading day.
Interestingly, Elon Musk was not the only Tesla executive who sold TSLA shares this month; his brother and Tesla board member, Kimbal Musk, sold 15% of his holdings in the company for nearly $110 million. The transactions were made on November 5 when TSLA stock reached an all-time high—one day before Elon Musk posted the poll on Twitter.