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Elon Musk sells $8.5 billion of Tesla stock after sealing Twitter deal

·3-min read
Elon Musk speaking at the launch of the Tesla SUV  (Getty Images)
Elon Musk speaking at the launch of the Tesla SUV (Getty Images)

Elon Musk sold around $8.5 bilion (£3.2 billion) worth of Tesla shares in the days after sealing a deal to buy Twitter, new filings show.

Musk sold around 9.6 million shares in the electric car company he runs on Tuesday and Wednesday. The stock was sold in chunks at a share price ranging from as low as $822.68 to as high as $999.13.

Tesla shares were trading at $908.24 on Friday on Wall Street, up about 3.6% on the day.

The huge sales, which still leave Musk with a stake in Tesla worth around $147 billion, came after the entrepreneur struck a deal to buy Twitter. On Monday, he had reached a deal with the company’s board to buy the social media platform for $44 billion.

The stock sales appear to go some way to answering the question of how Musk will fund his portion of the Twitter takeover. He has pledged to provide $21 billion in equity towards the deal, but estimates suggests he had just $3 billion of cash on hand prior to the latest stock sales.

Tesla shares have fallen 10% since Monday amid speculation that Musk could be forced to sell down his stake to fund the deal. The CEO’s large share sales over recent days are likely to have contributed to the decline.

News of Musk’s stock sales first broke overnight on Thursday when filings with the US Securities and Excahnge Commission showed the billionaire had sold around 4.5 million shares.

Musk moved to reassure investors overnight, writing on Twitter: “No further TSLA sales planned after today.”

However, subsequent filings published early on Friday morning — after Musk’s tweet — showed the stock disposals were around twice as big as first thought.

Musk, worth an estimated $252 billion according to Bloomberg, is paying $54.20 per share to take Twitter private. The deal was struck in less than two weeks, shocking the corporate world and alarming some Twitter staff.

Musk has promised to “unlock” Twitter’s “potential” and protect free speech on the site.

“For Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral, which effectively means upsetting the far right and the far left equally,” he wrote on Twitter earlier this week.

In a tweet on Thursday, he said: “Let’s make Twitter maximum fun!”

Details of Musk’s business plans for the social media website remain thin. Reuters reported on Friday that the billionaire told bankers working on the deal he would cut costs at Twitter by slashing executive pay and develop new ways to monetise tweets.

On Thursday, Twitter reported a 16% jump in first quarter revenue to $1.2 billion as advertising income rose 23% to $1.1 billion. But costs rocketed 35% to $1.33 billion in the period.

The result was a negative operating margin of -11% and an operating loss of $128 million in the quarter.

Daily users on the site rose 16% to 229 million in the first quarter.

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