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George Spencer

December 10, 2021

The Start of Elon Musk’s Sellout of Tesla Stocks

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX and also the world’s richest person, was reported to have sold approximately $5 billion worth of Tesla shares in the first three days of the second week of November to cover his tax obligations after exercising options on a large tranche of stock.

On Monday, he exercised stock options and acquired more than 2 million shares. Those shares were worth $2.5 billion that day. He sold $1.1 billion out of it as part of what SEC filings said was a preplanned move to exercise his stock options. The sale of the additional shares on Tuesday and Wednesday was not preplanned, the filings added.

According to the same filings, the world’s richest person sold about 4.5 million shares between Monday and Wednesday. Tesla’s stock closed trading on Wednesday at more than $1 million, which would value the shares at worth almost $5 billion, but some were sold for slightly higher prices.

Elon Musk then went to Twitter on Saturday and asked his followers in a poll whether he should sell 10% of his shares in the electric car company and the poll which collected more than 3.5 million votes had 58% of them supporting the decision to sell. Elon’s 17% stake is worth $208 billion as of Friday’s market close and 10% of his stock is valued at about $20.8 billion, indicating that there was $15.8 billion more stock sales from Elon Musk in the coming days or weeks if he is to make good on his decision.

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In total, Musk has sold about 4.5 million shares that week, separate from the 2.1 million that he gained from stock options. As of this winter, he owns more than 20% stake in the company. 

According to an SEC report, the Tesla CEO had originally filed to sell some of his stocks long before he even set up the Twitter poll. The regulatory body disclosed that at least $1.1 billion of the sales have been in motion since September, via an arrangement called the 10b5-1 plan.

The 10b5-1 plan is a rule established by the SEC that is often used by executives in order to desist from suspicions of insider trading and is usually used to spread sales over a certain period of time. Filings covering the remaining sales made on Tuesday and Wednesday did not specify whether they were made under this same arrangement or not.