Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, offloaded 583,611 more shares worth $528 million in the electric vehicle maker, as he comes nearer to meeting the pledge he made to sell 10 per cent of his stake in the EV pioneer amid criticism that he isn't paying enough taxes.
Mr Musk, the world's richest person according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with $245 billion as of Wednesday, has now disposed about 13.5 million shares worth around $14.1bn, according to regulatory filings. He is now three quarters of the way towards meeting his pledge, and needs to sell about 17 million more shares to fulfil it, assuming this does not include exercisable options.
The latest share sale comes after Mr Musk sold 934,091 Tesla shares worth around $906.5m. That move, however, cost the carmaker its $1 trillion market capitalisation status, the first time it went below the mark since October 25.
As of Wednesday morning, California-based Tesla's market cap is at almost $917bn.
On November 24, Mr Musk sold 934,091 shares for $1.05bn, after a few days' break, while also exercising 2.15 million stock options.
The billionaire has been offloading his shares in Tesla after he conducted a Twitter poll amongst his more than 67.2 million followers on whether he should sell some of his stake in the carmaker.
Mr Musk first revealed his plans to sell shares at the 2021 Code Conference in September. In the same month, he established a pre-arranged trading plan to carry out “an orderly sale of shares related to the exercise of stock options”, filings show. The Twitter poll did not disclose the existence of that plan.
His offloading of shares comes as he counters US Democrats' “billionaires' tax”, which seeks contributions from America's most affluent by taxing their “tradable assets”. The proposed tax is expected to help fund US President Joe Biden’s ambitious social policy and climate change legislation.
Last week, Mr Musk faced the ire of US senator Elizabeth Warren, who tweeted saying that he should pay taxes instead of "freeloading off everyone else". Mr Musk responded saying that he "will pay more taxes than any American in history this year".
On Monday, he tweeted that he would be paying $11bn in taxes in 2021.
Mr Musk, a prolific tweeter whose posts notoriously move the share prices of cryptocurrencies and do not always amuse regulators, even found time to joke about “quitting my jobs” amid his share sale spree.
Time magazine named Mr Musk as its Person of the Year on December 13.
Tesla posted its largest quarterly net profit, driven by a record number of deliveries despite a global semiconductor shortage and supply chain disruptions in its fiscal third quarter ending September
Profit jumped about 389 per cent to $1.6bn, almost $1.3bn more than the income earned in the same period a year ago. It was the ninth straight profitable quarter and the second consecutive three-month period with more than $1bn profit for the company. Revenue rose 57 per cent to nearly $13.8bn, exceeding analysts’ expectations, the fourth time in a row it reported $10bn or more in sales.