Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has sold about $5 billion (£3.7 billion) worth of the electric carmaker’s stock.
It comes after he asked his 63 million Twitter followers if they thought he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock. The company’s stock dropped by around 16 percent in the two days after the survey suggested he sell shares, before recovering some ground on Wednesday.
Tesla is the most valuable automobile company in the world, with a stock market value of more than $1 trillion.Mr Musk’s trust sold over 3.6 million Tesla shares valued roughly $4 billion.
According to papers with the US stock market regulator, he also sold another 934,000 shares for almost $1.1 billion after exercising options to buy over 2.2 million shares. The records revealed that nearly a quarter of the shares were sold as part of a pre-arranged trading strategy that began in September, far before Mr Musk’s weekend social media statements about selling some of his holdings.
The sale of the remaining shares, however, had not been arranged, according to regulatory records. Mr Musk asked his Twitter followers to vote on whether he should sell a portion of his Tesla stock to fulfill his tax obligations on Saturday. “Much is made lately of unrealised gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock,” he tweeted.
“I will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes.” More than 3.5 million people voted in the survey, with approximately 58 percent in favor of the stock sale.
Mr Musk also stated that he is not paid in cash by Tesla: “I only have stock, so selling shares is the only method for me to pay taxes personally.”
He used stock options that he was given by the automaker as part of his salary package in 2012 as part of the most recent transaction.
Income taxes are triggered by such transactions, which are normally paid with funds earned by the prompt sale of part of the newly acquired shares.
It was his first stock sell since he exercised stock options in 2016. He also sold some of the shares to satisfy a nearly $600 million tax liability at the time.