Musk sells another batch of Tesla shares despite his vow to quit

(Bloomberg) – Billionaire Elon Musk offloaded another batch of Tesla Inc. stock to help fund his takeover of Twitter Inc., taking his sales of shares in the electric vehicle maker to around $36 billion during the last year.

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Musk sold 19.5 million shares worth $3.95 billion in the latest trades, according to regulatory filings Tuesday night in New York. The documents did not indicate that the sales – its first since August – were planned in advance.

The filings come despite assurances from the CEO and Tesla’s largest shareholder that he had finished offloading the shares. Musk claimed in April that no further transactions were planned, then again in August, saying it was important to avoid an “emergency sale” in case he needed to complete the Twitter acquisition. and would struggle to bring in additional partners.

Tesla shares fell less than 1% at 9:36 a.m. Wednesday in New York. The stock has fallen 46% this year through Tuesday’s close and has lost $600 billion in market capitalization since its peak last November.

Read more: Tesla’s value halved in a year rocked by Musk share sales

The world’s richest person continued his takeover of the social media platform in October, after spending months trying to get by. It’s unclear exactly how the $44 billion deal was ultimately funded, beyond the roughly $13 billion in debt commitments from Wall Street banks.

Several high-profile figures have pledged to invest some $7 billion, although it is unclear whether they have all delivered on their promises. And Musk has never said publicly how he plans to raise his share of the money needed to close the deal.

But one thing is clear: Twitter is losing money and now faces nearly $1.2 billion in annual interest payments. Since Musk took over, several major companies have halted their ads on the platform, waiting to see how it will evolve under the billionaire’s leadership.

“It looks like Musk is preparing for things to stay bad on Twitter for the next year,” Gene Munster of Loup Ventures said after the stock sale became public. “He’s preparing for Twitter to be a money hole.”

Musk, 51, and his financial right-hand man, Jared Birchall, did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

The billionaire’s drastic measures to cut costs – including laying off half of the staff and later asking some to return – and overhauling the platform’s operations led to a tumultuous two weeks at the social media company. , with some employees not entirely clear whether they are still employed there or not.

The deal also sparked concern from some Tesla shareholders that the CEO is spreading too thin and should dump even more of his stock. He still owns about 14%, according to Bloomberg data.

Of the $36 billion worth of shares Musk has sold, about half has come since he went public with the Twitter buyout plan, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The drop in Tesla shares caused Musk’s fortune to plummet to $179.5 billion from $340 billion at its peak, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

–With help from Dana Hull, Ed Ludlow, Tom Maloney, Esha Dey and Craig Trudell.

(Updates with stock trading in the fourth paragraph)

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