Musk offloads another $1b in Tesla stock as he nears finish line of share-sale pledge

Move by Tesla founder takes total sold so far to about 15.6m shares, which is more than 91% of nearly 17m he needs to offload to reach target

Elon Musk says he will be paying $11 billion in taxes this year. Reuters
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Tesla chief executive Elon Musk continued his share-sale spree by offloading another $1 billion worth of stock as the world's richest person comes close to making good on his pledge to sell 10 per cent of his ownership in the world's biggest electric vehicle manufacturer.

Mr Musk, who was worth about $279bn as of Wednesday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, sold a further 934,090 Tesla shares worth $1.02bn, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

That takes the total he has sold so far to about 15.6 million shares, which is more than 91 per cent of the roughly 17 million he needs to offload to reach his target.

Tesla's shares have surged more than 2,300 per cent over the past five years. They closed 0.5 per cent down on Tuesday and the company has a market capitalisation of about $1.09 trillion.

Mr Musk has been offloading his shares over the past few weeks after conducting a Twitter poll on November 6, asking his more than 68 million followers whether he should sell 10 per cent of his stake in the EV maker.

The billionaire businessman revealed that he intended to sell a huge portion of his stock in the fourth quarter 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 reveal, but the November 6 Twitter poll did not disclose the existence of that plan.

Mr Musk proposed this move, citing discussions about wealthy people hoarding unrealised gains to avoid paying taxes.

On December 20, he tweeted that he will pay more than $11bn in taxes this year amid criticism that the world's wealthiest person wasn't paying enough.

He was specifically chided by US senator Elizabeth Warren, who tweeted that Mr Musk should pay taxes instead of "freeloading off everyone else".

Mr Musk fired back, saying he "will pay more taxes than any American in history this year".

On December 14, he sold 934,091 Tesla shares worth about $906.5 million, a move that likely cost the California-based carmaker its $1tn market capitalisation, bringing it below the mark for the first time since October 25.

[I] will pay more taxes than any American in history this year
Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla

The prolific tweeter, whose messages can move the prices of cryptocurrencies and draw the ire of regulators, even joked about quitting his jobs on December 10 and "becoming an influencer full-time", when he offloaded shares worth $963m to pay taxes on the exercise of an additional 2.2 million options.

Time magazine named Mr Musk its Person of the Year on December 13, putting a punctuation mark on a very eventful year for the Tesla and SpaceX founder.

Updated: December 29, 2021, 11:48 AM