Elon Musk Sells $1.55 Billion of Tesla Stock To Meet Taxes

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(Bloomberg) — Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk exercised 2.15 million stock options in the electric car-maker, and then sold stock, shortly after he held a vote over Twitter asking his followers whether he should sell some of his stock.

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Musk on Monday exercised the options at a price of $6.24 per contract, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday. He subsequently sold 934,000 shares to collect about $1.1 billion.

The shares were sold “solely to satisfy the reporting person’s tax withholding obligations related to the exercise of stock options,” the filing said. The contracts, which came from a stock option award Musk received in 2012, were set to expire in August next year.

Tesla rose 4.3% on Wednesday to close at $1,067.95, paring losses this week to less than 13%. The decline on Monday and Tuesday wiped out $50 billion from Musk’s net worth.

It’s the billionaire’s first sale since 2016, when he last exercised stock options and liquidated some of his newly acquired shares to cover about $590 million of income taxes.

The sale was prompted by a Nov. 6 poll Musk set up on Twitter, saying that “much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock.” Almost 58% of the 3.5 million votes were cast in favor of a sale.

Musk, 50, is the world’s richest person with an almost $300 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His common shares in Tesla make up about 60% of it. That indicates Musk may carry out additional sales to fulfill his promise.

(Updates with scale of Musk wealth decline in fourth paragraph. An earlier version corrected the amount of stock sold.)

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