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Elon Musk to sell 10% of Tesla stock worth $20 billion based on Twitter poll

Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed that he will sell 10 per cent of his holdings in the electric car maker based on a Twitter poll he conducted over the weekend. The stake sale, which has been estimated at more than $20 billion, led to Tesla shares falling almost 30 per cent in early trading on Monday.

Analyst Daniel Ives of WedBush Securities informed that Musk owns about 23 per cent of Tesla’s stock and has about $10 billion in taxes coming due to stock options that vest next summer.

Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, holds most of his wealth in Tesla shares, which does not pay him a cash salary. “I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock,” Musk tweeted.

Wall Street analysts had assumed Musk will sell around 5 per cent of his stake, Ives said, but even doubling that number doesn’t cause him or his firm great concern. It’s better to “rip the Band-Aid off now” and avoid speculation, he added.

“Tesla remains in pole position to drive this EV adoption curve to the next level both domestically and globally with Musk & Co. leading the way,” Ives wrote in a note to clients.

Tesla has been rising. As of Friday, the shares had gained more than 40 per cent since last month when the company announced a record profit for the third quarter. Last week, Tesla shares hit an all-time closing high of $1,229,91 per share.

It is the most valuable car maker in the world with a market capitalisation of more than $1 trillion. Shares fell 2.8 per cent from their open of $1,149.79 to $1,187.49 in morning trading after being down more than 6 per cent right after the bell. They’re still up nearly 60 per cent for the year.

The sometimes abrasive and unpredictable Musk, whose net worth is around $300 billion, said he proposed selling the stock as some Democrats have been pushing for billionaires to pay taxes when the price of the stocks they hold goes up, even if they don’t sell any shares. However, the wording on unrealized gains, also called a “billionaires tax,” was removed from President Joe Biden’s budget, which is still being negotiated.

“Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10 per cent of my Tesla stock,” he tweeted Saturday afternoon. “Do you support this?”

Musk said he would abide by the results of the poll, which ended with 58% of more than 3.5 million votes calling for him to sell the stock. He did not say when he would sell the stock.

Musk is known for roiling markets with his sometimes flippant and ill-advised tweets. Last Tuesday, Tesla shares tumbled more than 3% after Musk tweeted that a deal to sell 100,000 Teslas to Hertz had not yet been signed. Hertz said the cars were already being delivered.

Ives called Musk’s recent Twitter poll “another bizarre soap opera that can only happen to one company and one CEO in the world, Musk.”

(With agency inputs)

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