Elon Musk Live Updates: Tesla CEO Sells Over $5bn in Shares After Controversial Twitter Poll

Live Updates

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has sold millions of shares in the electric car company, raising over $5 billion after a controversial Twitter poll about his tax bill. The sales amount to around three percent of Musk's stake in the company but still leaves him as the largest shareholder in the company.

Last weekend, he said he would sell 10 percent of his holdings in the company, worth more than $20 billion, based on the results of a poll he conducted on Twitter. The sale tweets caused a panicked sell-off of Tesla stock earlier this week but it recovered slightly yesterday, with shares up 2.6 percent to $1,096.

The poll raises questions about whether it was always Musk's intention to sell off regardless, with tax transactions "automatically effected" in a sell-off plan already agreed in September.

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Tesla opens strong on NASDAQ

The company closed on a $1,067.95 share price yesterday but has just opened up on $1,103.40.

The hope among Tesla executives, including Elon Musk, is that it will continue to recover from the dip it suffered after he sold shares.

Why is Elon Musk facing a massive tax bill?

The Tesla CEO is facing a tax bill of more than $15 billion in the coming months on stock options - a special tax on profits made from sold shares. For this reason, market watchers believe he would likely have sold some of his shares in the company regardless to make up for it, given he does not earn a wage.

The company noted in its third-quarter Securities and Exchange Commission 10-Q report this year that Musk "may be forced by one or more of the banking institutions to sell shares of Tesla common stock to satisfy his loan obligations" if stock prices continue to drop substantially.

Musk's options expire in August of next year but in order to exercise them, he has to pay the income tax on the gain, meaning he will be taxed at the top income level (37 percent) plus 3.8 percent net investment tax. He will also have to pay a 13.3 percent tax rate in California.

Who owns Tesla now?

Elon Musk currently owns - pre-sale - around 17 percent of shares in the company, making him the largest shareholder. But with the selling of a significant 10 percent of his shares, that place could soon be under threat.

For the moment, however, his place is secure with an estimated 15 percent ownership after he sells off part of his over $200 billion stake in the firm. It has prompted speculation online that he may be looking to take a step back from Tesla to focus on SpaceX operations - but that has not been confirmed by Musk.

Others heavily invested in Tesla are mostly capital groups, with Vanguard owning the second-highest number of shares (5.9 percent), followed by BlackRock and Capital Research.

'Still blows my mind': Musk celebrates SpaceX ISS mission

Aside from recent Tesla controversies, Elon Musk has been focusing heavily on his space operations, notably sending Star Trek legend William Shatner into the edge of space last month.

Yesterday, his company successfully launched a delayed mission to return crew from the International Space Station back to earth using his Dragon capsule.

Still blows my mind that this is real

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 10, 2021

What is Elon Musk's money game?

The Twitter-based sell-off of his stock is the latest controversial pledge the entrepreneur has made in recent weeks involving billions of his wealth.

Last week, he challenged the United Nations World Food Programme boss David Beasley to explain the claim of how $6 billion of his personal wealth could stop millions from dying of starvation - and if he could, that he would sell Tesla shares to pay it "right now".

He has also been influencing cryptocurrency markets in recent weeks, with his tweets sending the likes of Dogecoin and Bitcoin soaring in price.

What did Musk's Twitter poll say?

The Tesla boss proposed to sell off 10 percent of his company shares last weekend due to "unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance" for billionaire businesspeople.

Musk claims not to take a salary or bonus from Tesla, instead using sold shares to pay $1.1 billion in taxes due in the next 12 months.

The final result shows 58 percent of users supported the idea, which he has now partially carried out.

Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock.

Do you support this?

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 6, 2021

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

Market sellers will be anxiously awaiting today's trading of Tesla stock amid the instability following Elon Musk's sell-off of shares.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Thursday for all the latest.